Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Hell They Call Heathrow

How can you tell than I am not enamoured by Heathrow today?! Actually, it's not that bad. . .hell, it could be the Delhi International Airport. We landed at Heathrow and I don't know where the hell the pilot parked us, but it was no where near any gate - just kinda out there on the tarmac. Then we had to wait 20 minutes for some stairs to show up, even though they promised the pilot they would be there (or so he told us). Then we got to board a bus and ride through the bowels of the airport. Lord only knows where the hell we went but we eventually turned up at the terminal. Given that I am travelling onwards, I had to go through British security (Lord only knows how lax Indian security is. . .I don't even know if they guy had the x-ray machine on!) and that is where I experienced more stupid people.

By now, I have had enough of dumb people and pushy people. (As you all know, I am not that tolerant of dumb people) Indian people aren't very good at cueing up - they just seem to push ahead whether you are there or not. Case in point - there is a line-up of 4 people waiting for the bathroom on the plane. I am next in line and what does this lady do - she just goes in front of me - and I am pretty sure she used the "western" style toliet as a squat toliet b/c the seat was up when I went in next. And when will people realize that that cue once you have gone through the security screening and you are waiting for your bag isn't the place to stop, put on your belt, take your time and reposition all of your things while everyone else's stuff is piling up behind you - some people truly are stupid. I mean, you grab your crap, you go off to the side and you reorganize. . .I should give lessons. . .along with lessons on how to ride the escalator. . .stand to the right, walk to the left - not hard - or you can even reverse it in those parts of the world where they do things on the opposite side!

Oh yah, this morning - nice bright and early - I got a cab from my hotel to the airport - keep in mind, I am all of about 3km away. The hotel had a car and driver take me over there and when I got there, I asked the guy how much - he said R 500 - which is about $12 - for 3 km and I paid R 150 the night before to go from the airport to the hotel. Of course, all I had was R 1000 and R100 and 2 R 50 and he didn't have change. I told him that I was not giving him R 500 and ended up giving him R 200 - still -highway robbery. I have to admit, I did experience some of that while I was in India - I learned that you always negotiate the fair upfront (or go by the prepaid booth) or you can end up with one hell of a price shock! I was also told yesterday that I tipped too much - I gave some guy R 20 or about $.50 for taking my bags out to a cab for me and helping me arrange it - he told me that was too much and that I should tip smaller - go figure!

They have these computers in the lounge locked down worse than my work computer - I tried to upload some photos (and I even broke into where the CPU was) but still to no avail. . .so wait until tomorrow or the next day and I will populate some of these blogs with pics. . . .

And lastly before I go and grab a bit to eat and maybe a Starbucks.. . .yummy.. . Starbucks - I will comment on British Airways. I know that comparing Executive First on Air Canada and Club World (Business) on BA isn't exactly comparing apples to apples, but I can honestly say that after experiencing the two, Air Canada kicks BA's ass. The service is far more superior (and attentive), the food is better, the seats are more comfortable and better configured and get this - BA does not have on demand video! I know that I shouldn't be complaining after experiencing extreme poverty - but really now. So unless you catch the movie right at the start, you are shit out of luck if you want to watch the whole thing. As for the lounge - BA has a better lounge than Air Canada and way better food, although Air Canada does have a better magazine selection.

So those are my last words for today. . .I think. I land in Calgary at 7:15pm and will have been travelling for 24 1/2 hours - I am sure that I will be a site to behold! I am looking forward to my bed (all the beds are hard in India) and the ability to pluck my eyebrows - I forgot my tweezers and they ain't looking pretty! I am also looking forward to my digestion getting back to some form of normal and for my appetite to return - although I am curious to know how much weight I have lost, if any. And oh yah, I need to exfoliate. . .my poor skin needs a good scrubbing!

Have a good one!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Small Pleasures

Greetings from Chennai! I am just waiting for my flight to board for London and thought that I would use these few moments to talk about small pleasures on my trip. I had the great opportunity of flying through Bangalore yesterday (and I am not being sarcastic here) - what a beautiful airport. It could rival any new airport in the west. It had some greats shops and was incredibly clean and modern - not like the airport in Delhi or Chennai - the chaos also seemed to be a little more constrained. I thought that I was flying on Kingfisher Air but actually it was on Jet Airways - which is essentially just like Air Canada. The service was pretty good, the plane was new and the safety demonstration was pretty much the same.

Given that my flight is pretty early this morning (8am departure) and figuring that I needed to be at the airport about 5:30am (see - I don't cut it close all the time mom), I opted to get a hotel close to the airport and booked into the Trident, which is a four-star, business oriented hotel. Overall, it was a pretty decent hotel, although my room did smell like someone had died in it! Here is where some of my small pleasures began - fresh fruit! I had 2 apples in my room, along with a plate and knife. . .to have some fresh fruit was incredibly nice! Then, I was able to have a bath! Not just a shower, but a bath. All of the places that I have stayed have only had a shower, so to be able to linger in hot water was awesome. Then to top it off, my bed had not one, not two, but rather 4 down feather pillows - small piece of heaven! Another way that I could tell that I was staying at a good hotel was the toliet paper - we aren't talking 1-ply stuff here - but rather some more along the lines of Charmine soft. . .oh how nice it was. And (yes there is still more), they used fabric softener on the towels! I haven't had towels that soft at a hotel other than the Four Seasons in Whistler! Overall, my body was happy.

The other small pleasure that I have had today was an orange. I have been craving an orange for about a week now (would also like some pasta too) and in the lounge here in Chennai, I noticed they had oranges, so I asked for one. Thinking that I would get an orange and would peel it, I thought I was off to the races. . .but no. The girl brought me my orange, all nicely peeled, cut into segments with the skin removed in a bowl. . .talk about a small piece of heaven in my mouth!

So those are just some of my small pleasures from the last day or so. . .I should run as my flight will be boarding shortly. I just was to leave this note on a more spot, I was reading in the paper this morning (I actually quite like Indian newspapers) about a new old age pension for those over 65 and living below the poverty line. It will guarantee them R 200/month with the expectation will contribute another R 200/month - for a total of R 400/month. In USD that equates to about $10. Unbelievable isn't it?!

Remember to count your blessings today and remember all of your good fortunes.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Taxi Ma'am, Hello Ma'am

I am getting very used to being called "ma'am". Everywhere I go, one of the first things I hear and it does not matter what I am doing is "taxi ma'am?" Actually in Goa, they seem to add the "ma'am" part more often than other parts that I have been to - more often than not it was just "taxi" - it seems as though walking isn't encouraged around here. Mind you, if you ever saw the traffic up in Delhi and the lack of infrastructure, you would quickly realize why you want to be enclosed in some sort of metal as opposed to being on the side of the road. I will be sure to post some pictures (I don't have my camera with me right now). Traffic in India is interesting and I am noticing some regional differences. For instance, up in Rajasthan, if there is a tiny opening in the traffic and when I say tiny, I mean tiny - like centimeters, they just honk their horn and move into it and hope for the best that the person besides you pulls over. The roads do have lane marked but I often wondered why b/c most 2 lane roads had about 5 lanes of traffic running up them.

As with England, they drive on the opposite side of the road here. So if you want to pass someone, you honk (you get very used to honking) and then you just move up and in. If you want to turn, you honk. If you get pissed off, you honk. You just seem to honk whenever. There were a few times where I feard marginally for my life, but not very often. I did have to tell my driver in Jaipur that he could slow down on a narrow and winding road up into the hills and that I didn't want to die on this trip! I have also been pleasantly surprised that most of the taxis that I have road in have had seat belts - I guess it is the law around here to wear them. There also seems to be a pecking order to the roadways - big trucks, cars, autorickshaws, bikes and then animals and people walking. Driving, particularly up in Rajasthan is survival of the fittest! Down in Goa, the driving and the traffic seem to be more civilized. They seem to acknowledge how many lanes of traffic that a road was built for and don't seem to be as kamikazee in their driving. Let's put it this way - I never once walked on the road in Rajasthan but I go for walks almost every day in Goa. . .I feel much more confident that I won't get hit by a car!

The other mode of travel I have embraced is the train system in India. It is cheap and comfortable (if you pay for the A/C cars). I think my trip from Delhi to Jaipur, which was about 4 hours and included breakfast cost me about $10 cdn. The train car I was in had cabin service, I was given a big bottle of water, my own pot of tea and a hot breakfast. When I was coming back from Agra to Delhi in the same car class, we were given a hot supper and ice cream for dessert (both of which I declined as I had just eaten). Once you figure out how to book your ticket, travel on the train becomes quit easy. As most of you know, I am big fan of public transportation, particularly in foreign places - it gives you a chance to really see people. I also found it to be quite relaxing. The train stations on the other hand are another story - talk about chaos - particularly early in the morning! Arriving at the train station at 5am - there are people lying about everywhere and when I say everywhere, I mean everywhere! If there was a free inch of space, there was someone lying on it - usually with a piece of newspaper under them. Then when the trains pull in, it is a mad, chaotic rush to the cars, particularly to the 2nd class, unreserved cars. There where instances where people were going in through the windows - to hell with the doors and the stairs! I ended up taking the train 3 times - Delhi- Jaipur, Jaipur-Agra, Agra-Delhi - I think it cost me about $40 CDN total for all 3 legs.

I have also taken the local bus down here in Goa. On Saturday, when I had gone up to Panaji in north Goa (and when I had my gastric distress) I finally gave into the "taxi ma'am" and took a taxi up to Panaji. It was about a 30-40 minute drive (although only about 30km) and it cost me $20 CDN (and that was without A/C - that was another $5 - open windows achieve the same thing). I had decided before I left that I would take a taxi up and the local bus back. Well the local bus (which by the way was quite nice and comfortable - no A/C but open windows), cost me $.50 CDN - yep 50 cents. So really, if you want to do India on the cheap, take either the train or the bus!

I have also had the opportunity fly one of the local airlines - SpiceJet. I flew with them from Delhi to Goa - cost me about $165 CDN and all in all, was very good. The check-in was very smooth (they have separate lines at security for women, that are curtained off for when they pat you down), they flew newer planes like an Airbus 320 and they were very professional. They did however charge for drinks and snacks on board. Tomorrow I am flying with another local carrier - Kingfisher Air to Chennai - will see how that goes.

As you can see, I have really covered the whole transportation gamet here in India short of riding a camel or an elephant (although I did look into it!). I survived it but can honestly say that I never want to be the driver here!

Conceding Defeat

Well, I hate to say this but I am conceding defeat here in India and I am coming home early. As much as I would have loved to have stayed for Stephen & Shuba's wedding (and the reason that I came over here) the thought of being here for another 2 weeks makes me want to cry. I have been nauseous since I arrived here and have now realized that it is a side effect of my malaria medication (which I am not prepared to stop taking - like I need malaria!) Another side effect is loss of appetite - which I have also had - which has lead to me not eating very much which leads to me feeling more sick. . .I am sure you can see the vicious cycle that I am in. It's not that I don't like India - b/c I have a found an area that I do, but I am not enjoying myself. Now I know that there are a bunch of you out there who are going to say - "tough it out - you can do it" - I am pretty sure I could, but I wouldn't be enjoying myself and would be miserable the entire time - so thus my decision.

So in other news, I finally experienced by first bout of gastric distress on Saturday. . . and I have figured out the cause. I have been drinking dairy, in the form of a very delicious vanilla milkshake in the mornings - I am supposed to take dairy with my malaria pills. Well Indian dairy is not sitting well with me. . .it is far to rich and is playing havoc on my tummy. So where was I when this distress hit you ask, in Panaji which is a small city in north Goa. Do you think I could find myself a "western-style" bathroom - oh no - yours truly got to "squat" over a pit while her guts gave out. Thankfully I travel with a lot of kleenex and my vat of Purell! Needless to say, that was not an experience that I want to repeat and have since laid off the dairy!

Well I should run. . . I am just making the final changes to my flight home. . .will try and blog somewhere along the way.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I'm Married!!!!

Yep - you read it right. . .I am now married. Those of you who really know me well, then this shouldn't really come as a surprise now should it?! I always said that it would be quick and fast and come right out of left field and boy does this ever! Seriously though, I figured about 4 days ago that I would be better off married while I am here - so 4 days ago, I found myself a husband, he doesn't have a name, he is a businessman and he is coming over to join me at the beginning of September. In other words - he is fictious - sorry for the heart attack mom. I have been routinely asked, mainly by my taxi drivers, if I am married and have realized it is much easier to answer "yes" than "no". Funny thing is, none of them seem to notice that I don't wear a wedding band (but I do have an explanation for that - my fingers swell in the heat, had to take it off). I have found that by having a "boss", as one driver called him, makes my life much easier and I don't have to answer so many questions.

Well I am about a week into my experience/holiday and I can finally say that I am starting to enjoy myself. I flew down to Goa from Delhi on Tuesday and let me tell you what a great change in scenery it was and it immediately put me in a better frame of mine (let's put it this way - I was looking for the first plane back to Canada by Tuesday!). Goa reminds me a lot of the Carribean - it is very lush and green, the roads are narrow and the people are friendly. I have booked myself into a resort in South Goa called the Royal Orchid - I found it on Expedia when I was in Delhi and it looked pretty good. I can tell you that it ain't no Four Seasons but it sure in the hell a lot better than some of the sh*t holes I stayed in in Rajasthan for double the price! All it all, it is a 3 star resort - rooms are clean, bed is comfortable, they have a nice pool. Given that it is still monsoon season down here, the resort is anything but busy! Speaking of monsoons, the only rain that I have experienced was this morning when I woke up - it was pouring out but it only lasted about 20 minutes and then it was blue skies and sunny all day! I even burnt the marshmellow. . .dumb me! I decided to take a walk down the beach and ended up going about 8km down to a little town called Colva. There I found a restaurant that is owned by a British guy and managed to finally eat some comfort food - mashed potatoes and chicken pot pie. The chicken in the chicken pot pie had a little too much chicken flavour to it, but the mashed potatoes were real and made me feel a whole lot better. I then spent the next hour teaching my waiter how to do Su Doku - we did 3 puzzles together and he didn't want me to leave. . .maybe I should have mentioned my husband! LOL! Given that I was pretty toasted by then (and had no sunscreen in my bag) I opted to take an auto-rickshaw back to my hotel - which was a good thing when I realized just how far it was. . . I am sure that I would still be walking!

So my thoughts on India (I know that you are all wondering and given that I haven't blogged much about my first week, I figure I should share with you a bit now) - well let's just say that the none of my pre-trip nerves were worth it. I have mentally prepared for the worst, but experienced something a lot different. Delhi was a lot less crowded than I expected, it didn't smell as bad as I was expecting and the proverty wasn't as extreme - don't get me wrong, it was bad (will blog about that later) but then again, maybe I was too sensitized before I left. Delhi was also a lot less cosmopolitan than I was expecting. I was expecting it to be much more of a commercial/business hub with some large office buidlings/downtown core or something but it had none of that. Rather, it was a dump. Yep, a dump - or at least I thought so. The only redeeming feature of Delhi in my opinion was the Domestic Airport - which was very nice to fly out of! After about a day in Rajasthan (which is the state that Delhi is in) I wanted to leave! I will fill you in on my Rajasthan experience in my next blog.

In the mean time, I have come to these conclusions. . . I am much more of a Four Seasons/Westin type of holiday person. I thought that I liked to do the "cultural" thing - but I want to do it by nice little day trips from a really nice resort! I have really learned a lot about myself and my travel preferences on this holiday and I am sure that I will keep on learning considering I still have almost 3 more weeks! Until tomorrow. . . .keep smiling!

Monday, August 18, 2008

I am Alive!

I know, I know - you have all been waiting for me to start blogging but finding internet around here is kinda hard. I had it at my hotel in Jaipur yesterday however the space bar stuck and it was a bitch to type with so I thought -to hell with it. I am now sitting in some little hole in the wall (literally) about 500m from the Taj Mahal. I am not going to blog too much on this go around, but don't worry, I have 4 days to share with you, including photos. I guess you are all wondering - am I enjoying myself? Well, I don't know if enjoying myself is the right description. I can't say that I am loving Rajasthan and honestly, I can't wait to leave. I am not yet ready to write off India but I am ready to write off Rajasthan. Will explain more in future posts, but that pretty much sums up how I am feeling.

India hasn't been the shock that I was expecting. It isn't as loud, smelly or crowded as I was expected - it is however very chaotic. I have experienced a few things that I like - like Delhi in the wee hours of the morning when everything is quiet - by Delhi standards, or riding the train (that is a whole other story) and seeing the country side - that has been cool.

I am heading back to Delhi (from Agra) in a couple of hours and tomorrow morning I am catching a flight down to Goa to plant myself on a beach for a week. Hopefully that will be more my speed in terms of a holiday. Actually, now that I write that, I think that has been part of my problem - Delhi is not a holiday but rather an experience and I wasn't prepared (mentally) for that. . .I was in holiday mode.

Sorry this is so "blah" and short but really, I am not in the mood to type but rather I figured that I should post something so my mom knows that I am alive! I love you mom! (and Dad!!!)

Here is a picture of the Taj Mahal - truly a sight to behold!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

India - The preparation

I am leaving tomorrow for India. Once again, I am being a princess and am flying business - do you honestly think that I could ever go back to coach long-haul after my trip to Australia. . .yah right! I couldn't afford British Airways First Class, but BA Business - which still gives me a bed, was doable. Beyond having my flight booked over there and back, I really don't have much else booked. I keep telling myself that I am going to book my hotel in Delhi tonight. . .mind you, I have been saying that for 2 weeks now. But really, I do have to do it tonight b/c I leave tomorrow and I can't land in Delhi without a scheduled car & driver! I have pretty much decided to wing it. That really doesn't go well with my mom (I had to break the news to her last night) but really, I am not a huge plan person.

On the packing side of things, I have laid out almost everything on my bedroom floor and just need to put it in the bag – believe it or not, I am travelling light, but not as light as the lady at the travel store thinks I should. She thought that taking only 2 underwear was wholly appropriate – you know, wear one, wash one – not really my cup of tea – plus underwear don’t take up that much space! She also didn’t think that taking my flat iron for my hair was necessary but I beg to differ! I am however only taking 3 pair of shoes –including the pair I am going to wear. I know – hard to believe – me with only 3 pair of shoes! If I didn’t have the wedding to go to, I would only take 2!

So keep checking back here for the next month or so as I am sure I will having some amazing experiences to share. . .or at least good stories!

For those of you who want to keep in touch with me, feel free to email me at and I will also be posting pictures both on my blog and on Facebook - which I will link to here.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

It's Dark & Cold at 6am

Well, it is dark and cold at 6am but I am toughing it out. I also don't think that developing frost on your sweaty back at 6am is a good thing either! I swear I was going to die the first day and all that we did was some baseline fitness testing - you know, the standard how many sit-ups in a minute, how many push-ups, how long you can hold a plank, wall-sit and a 1km run. And oh yah, just for fun at the end, we did lunges across the field - for fun I said! One thing that I have learned is that I am the fattest and most out of shape in my boot camp. I am also only 1 of 3 people who is only subjecting themselves to this hell 3 times a week. The rest of the people feel that it is completely justifiable to get up at 5:30am to go and sweat in the dark and cold 5 days a week - well not this chiquita! Seriously though, I am enjoying myself. I keep telling myself that it is only 60minutes of my day and that I can do this. Plus we have a kick-ass instructor - Rebecca - who is a good pusher/motivator. I found myself even doing lunges for fun yesterday while I was waiting for my bath (gotta stop that bad habit! ;))

On Tuesday I was sooo sore and had a hard time getting up out of my chair at work but it was the good pain - you know the pain where you feel like you have done something. Then on Thursday, my chest was sore from the push-ups. I want to know who the sadist was who invented push-ups. . .I mean, what is the point? If I am ever on the ground like that, then I am going to use my arms and my legs to get up off the floor - never would I ever fathom to think of only using my arms!

Well tomorrow is the start of week two. . .will try and keep more up-to-date on the blog. . .

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Let the Hell Begin!

Well, tomorrow I start boot camp - yes boot camp! What ever inspired me to want to get up at 5:30am to go and work my butt off for an hour 3 times a week? I don't know. . maybe it was the Biggest Loser or the fact that summer is coming and I have flabby arms. Rather I think it was a moment of boredom a couple of weeks back and I thought "hey - why don't I pay to have someone kick my ass early in the morning" - mental note - when bored, shop instead!

Speaking of shopping, as a gift to myself for embarking on this new (and most likely hellish) journey, I bought myself a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes this morning for Neiman Marcus. . .I can't wait for them to come in. Part of me really, really hopes that they don't fit b/c I am sure if they do fit, that I will want more and given that I am pavo. . .I really can't afford more. Yah, I know - really warped thinking!

Back to bootcamp. . .so what do I want to get out of this. . .hopefully some toned arms, maybe a small reduction in the girls, a higher level of fitness. . .or motivation to haul my ass out of bed for work before 7:20am each morning.

So yes, I am scared shitless at to what this is going to look like, but I see it this way - it is only for 1 hour or 60 minutes 3 times a week - that I can survive (I think!) So keep checking back here. . .you will probably get to read some rumblings of how much my ass hurts or how sore my abs are or even better, a picture of my new shoes! Yeah. . .I love new shoes!

Well gotta run and buy the yoga mat that I need to take with me . . .when I leave my house at 5:40am - ugh!!!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Penguin Island & Good Bye Perth

Well today is/was my last day in Perth :( - it is going to be hard to leave this nice, warm weather, where everything is nice and green and come back to Calgary brown. I do have to admit that I have been kinda pissed that it didn't get bloody cold while I was gone. Just my luck, it will probably get bitchingly cold in the next couple of weeks! I have plotted out my strategy for my flights home. I went online to Quantas this morning and checked in and picked my seat. I am on the red-eye - ugh! but I had no choice as there is no good international connection when crossing the continent. The flight is a 747 so the seating configuration is 3-4-3. Originally I was in a row of 3 with 2 other people so then I picked a row of 4 with no one in it. Then I got to thinking, chances are they would put someone else in that row so then I changed my seat again and found an empty row of 3 and I will make myself seem as unfriendly as possible so no one decides to sit there and then I can lay out. I have also researched out the lounges in the Sydney airport and lo and behold there is no Maple Leak Lounge but. . . Singapore Airlines has a lounge (with showers) and they are partners with Air Canada - so I can at least have a shower tomorrow morning and relax before my flight. (Yes - these things are important to me!) I am guessing that their lounges are pretty posh - much better than United Airlines who also has a lounge but I think I will gravitate to Singapore Airlines. As for my upgrade - still not too sure - will find out in the morning - ugh!

I have come to totally admire my friend Carley (not that I already didn't before) but now to a new level. Coming to see her on the other side of the world has made me realize that I don't think that I could do it. For one, there is no way I could be that far away from Horton and Australia has such strict quarantine laws that he would have to be in quarantine if he came down here with me. As well, not being able to easily talk to my parents would kill me (mind you - they might like it! :)) The other thing is that although things are pretty much the same i.e. food - there is always something that is just a little different so when you are wanting that taste of home, it can be hard to get. I don't - packing up and moving to the other side of the world where you don't know anyone - WOW - that takes an amazing person and that would be my friend Carley!

Today I took the train out to Rockingham which is about 50km south of Perth. Once again, I have to rave about the great transit that they have here in Australia. I think it cost me all of $5 to go there - I don't think you could drive that much. I was going down to Rockingham to go to a place called Penguin Island which has a colony of Fairy Penguins which are the smallest of all of the penguins. I have to say that today was probably the best individual day that I have had in Australia - diving at the reef was the greatest individual event, but as for overall day, today was probably it. The island is a conservation island and you can only go out there for daytrips either you can wade across the sandbar or take the ferry across (I took the ferry - less risk!)

Oh the sights that I saw today while going to Rockingham and while I was there. First, there was the girl, probably in here 20s on the bus who had not only a visible muffin top but also plumber butt to go with it. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera out so I couldn't take a picture. Next, I saw this older lady - would have pegged her late 60s with her leathery, crepey skin in her bikini - not nice. Lastly, this lady got on in Rockingham who had violet coloured hair with grey roots, a beard and I am not talking just a few goat hairs on the chin, missing a front tooth and boobs down to her waist (with her bra on) - oh yah - she was a keeper. I did take a picture of her but it wasn't that great and I never got a chance to take another one.

(yes this is here and yes I am going to have to answer to this to a higher power!)

After a lovely meal of salmon with mango salsa and roasted sweet potatoes, I think Carely and I am going to go for one last visit to the Indian Ocean. . .I am really going to miss the ocean.

Well I am hoping to fire off one last post tomorrow when I am in Sydney, but if not, then this is the end of my Austalian Vacation Blog - thank you for sharing my adventure with me!
Oh yah - I toasted the marshmellow today, it is getting that nice little brown coating but I noticed that like a real marshmellow - you get a little burn on it and the whole thing goes! I am not that bad but you can see where I missed with sunscreen today - oops!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Wandering around Perth

Well I am learning the hard way that you shouldn't drink a Vietnamese iced coffee at 9pm or you will be up forever! It is now 11:30pm and I am still wired! Oh well, I am still on holidays and can sleep in!

I realize that my blog is getting a little dull and boring but really, my days have been very low-key lately and relaxing. Oh - I did spend some more time toasting the marshmellow today but I am still fairly white!

Today was a day of exploration around Perth and it's suburbs. My first stop was Subiaco which is akin to 17th Avenue in Calgary with all sorts of great shops and such. One thing that I have learned while here is that that I would have to totally change my style if I were to live here. There seems to be a real absence of suits for women and there are many more dresses and such. I would probably also have to lose 100lbs. in order to fit into the clothes as I have previously mentioned, everything is made in China and is sized as such! I also encountered many shoe shops that seemed to specialize in synthetic uppers that are made in China for shoes - all I can say is "holy sweaty feet!" I did however find probably the only shoe store in all of Australia that sells shoes from Italy and managed to buy a pair - yeah! It shouldn't surprise you that I bought more shoes!!!

After Subiaco, I took the train out to Freemantle which seems to be the antithesis of Perth - kinda like Calgary and Edmonton but a little more extreme. Let's put it this way, Freemantle aka Freo is much more white trailer park trashy than Perth. Freemantle is located on the coast and is the main port for the area - Perth is located more inland on the Swan River. There is great transit service in the Perth area including free bus service in key areas. I took the "Pussy" as in cat, bus around Freemantle which gave me a good overview of the city. The city is definately a port town and there is some amazing architecture for the late 1800s and early 1900s. Who would have thought I would be interested in looking at old buildings - but it really neat to see the English influence on the buildings here. Also while in Freemantle I had probably the most amazing gelato - I could have just sat down in front off all of the flavours and gorged myself - it was the good!

Freemantle also allowed me to explore one of my passions - church architecture - I love taking pictures of churches as you can see. The Church of St. John the Evangelist in Freemantle was open and they allowed you to wander about and take pictures - this is where all of the stained glass photos are from. It was a very beautiful church and allowed me some time for quiet reflection.
Another key learning that I have had while I have been here in Australia is not only do they drive on the opposite side of the road but they also walk on the left side of the pathway. (You know how you are supposed to walk on the right and pass on the left on the pathway - it is the opposite here). It took me a while today when I was walking in King's Park. I think I was about 3km into my walk when I realized that as people approached me that they were having move over and around me. Speaking of my walk, once again I decided to go wherever the paths would take me. Little did I know that I would be walking for 2 hours in my flip flops and covering about 12 kms - I am pretty sure that I am going to hurt tomorrow! Another thing that I have noticed (and like) about Perth is that people are out and about using the parks all of the time. It is really common for people to go on "picnics" or take their food to the park and eat, or just go and sit on the grass and hang out. The other thing is the real absence of people being out and about with their dogs - I am finding that odd.
I am sad that tomorrow is going to be my last day here in Perth. It is hard to believe that my holiday is almost over and that I have to go back to work in a week - ugh! I am liking this whole holiday thing but I do miss Horton dearly!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Toasting the Marshmellow

Yesterday was a day devoted to toasting the marshmellow (that is my new term for me tanning). You know - going from white to brown. Carley's friend David had organized a picnic for us down at the Swan River along with the opportunity to learn how to windsurf. Now me being as smart as I am, I opted not to windsurf b/c I know how bloody hard it is! We found ourselves a beautiful spot under a lovely palm tree along the river for our picnic. It was such a wonderful day of lounging around on the grass, playing frisbee in the water and playing with jellyfish. Unlike on the east coast of Australia, these jellyfish weren't stingers and in fact, you could pick them up. We decided we would teach them to fly and opted to throw them around (I know, I know - rather childish - but FUN!!!) It was such a nice and relaxing day. . .it was wonderful! Later in the evening after my hard day of doing nothing (Carley's was harder b/c she opted to learn how to windsurf) we went for some great Indian food and then gelato in Subiaco.
There have been a couple of key learnings that I have had while I have been in Australia - firstly, actual cities are small. The greater area might be big, but the city itself is small. Everything is is a different "suburb" which are little cities in the bigger city. So really, when you go somewhere, you need to know what suburb you are going to b/c if you say it is in Perth, it could really be in West Perth or Subiaco or Leederville. Thankfully Carley has a Tomtom (GPS unit) so we never get lost!!!!!

Another things that has amazed me about Australia - more so on the east coast than over here on the west is the abundance of tropical plants that we pay $17.99 for at Home Depot growing in the wild!

Some of the commercials that I have heard and/or seen have bordered on tasteless or there is no way in hell that you would get away with that in Canada. Here are a few that I can remember:

"Ladies - make sure you mow the lawn before you head for the beach, no one wants to see what the whipper snipper missed" - heard that one on the radio in Cairns. If you don't get this one, go back to my first blog posting and you will get what they are meaning.

"Get rid of your muffin top . . . " - on an commercial for a bodyslimmer on TV here in Perth. Now I know that we use the word muffin top in Canada - but never on TV or in a commercial!
Today is going to see some more toasting of the marshmellow and some exploring around Subiaco (a cool suburb here in Perth) and the CBD (central business district). My Lonely Planet book has a couple of good walking tours that I might try out.
For those of you who aren't on Facebook, here are the links to the pictures that I have posted so far. . . some of them are on my blog but the majority you haven't seen yet! Enjoy!!! (Part 3 - keep checking this one daily b/c I am updating my pictures daily - assuming that I am not being lazy)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Wandering, Wineries and Wave Rock

First things first - there is tragedy in my life. . . I may have to fly economy class on the way home from Australia - ugh!!!! I have just upgraded my ticket online and I am "waitlisted" for Executive First for the Sydney-Vancouver portion but confirmed Vancouver-Calgary. The one flight where I want to be comfortable! What is even more frustrating is that when I go online, it looks like First is pretty empty - so I don't know what the deal is?! I know, I know, of all of the tragedies in the world, this does not rank high! My trip home is going to be hell b/c I leave Perth at 12:15am on Wednesday, January 16 - arrive in Sydney at 6:30am and don't leave until 1:30pm. I then arrive in Vancouver at 8:30am on Wednesday, January 16 - so I am going to have some serious jet lag and will have been travelling for a long time! Plus, I have had a taste of the good life!!!! Moving on. . .

I ended up on a different flight to Perth from Cairns (some issues with Quantas) and didn't go through Ayers Rock like planned and didn't get in at 1:45pm like planned. . .more like 12:25am through Brisbane. Perth is such a lovely city - it reminds me a bit of Vancouver and a bit of Victoria.
I realize that I have been rather negligent on updating my blog over the past 3 days - I have hit total relaxation mode on my holiday where I am content to do a whole lot of nothing (including blogging!) On Thursday, I just bummed around by the pool and attempted to get some more colour on my lily white body through my Aussie 30 sunscreen. . .I am slowly cooking but don't expect a great tan from this chickie! B/w my sunscreen and my hat, this lily white body isn't toasting too well - oh well. . . better than then burning I guess! Carley also lives only 2 minutes from this great outlet mall so I also went shopping and guess what I found. . .shoes! I only bought 2 pair but there are a couple of more that I am considering and I might purchase before I leave. As I have mentioned before, things down here are expensive and everything is made in China, so the odds of fitting are small! That evening we went down to Cottesloe Beach and bought some fish and chips and sat on the beach (with 100s of others) and watched the sun go down ove the Indian Ocean - it was absolutely lovely. After that we went for a nice walk along the beach in the surf and had a great visit and catch-up. . . .Carley is the most wonderful host, putting up with my every suggestion and whim (you will understand in a bit!)

Friday we went to the market (fruit down here is AMAZING!) and then headed up the Swan River to visit some wineries. We had a most lovely lunch sitting under some vines outside at the Sandleford Winery. It was such a gorgeous day out and the vines provided us with some much needed shade. We then went to the Margaret River Chocolate Factory (like we needed more food) and watched them make some chocolates and of course, had to sample of few. We drove around the countryside stopping to taste wine at a couple of wineries. When we came back to Perth went to Kings Park which is this amazing park in the middle of Perth and went for a nice stroll around part of the park. I am going to go back on Monday and check out some more of the park as it is so beautiful and there are so many different parts to it. We then vegged out and watched the entire season of Summer Heights High which is this amazingly funny but totally politically incorrect Australian comedy. I have learned some new terms from it - fugly (I am sure you can figure that one out. . .someone is fugly) Povo (pronouced pawvo) another word for poor. If you can, see if you can find it on the web b/c it is so funny! Let's put it this way - it would give SNL a run for it's money and there is no way in hell they would play it on cable in Canada!

Yesterday we drove out to Wave Rock which I had read about in my Lonely Planet book and saw pictures of on the internet. . .now this is where Carley humoured me. It was a 4 hour drive out there but in the end we decided that it was worth it! Wave Rock is this granite rock that is 15m high and 110m long.
It is shaped like a wave by water eroding away part of the rock. There were some great walks around the area and I am sure they would have been lovely but the flies were brutal - not mosquitos. . . flies! We had packed a nice little picnic lunch and stopped just before the rock to eat it. The drive out to the rock was amazing as we went through some orchards, some farming areas and some outback type areas. Probably one of the highlights for me was seeing the sign where the Rabbit Proof Fence originally crossed the highway. For those of you who aren't familiar, the Rabbit Proof Fence was built in the early 1900s to keep the rabbits out but it also had a hugh impact on the Aborgines and there is a great movie out there called The Rabbit Proof Fence.

I am disappointed b/c I haven't seen any kangaroos yet - or at least ones that aren't roadkill. Carley's car doesn't have a 'Roo-bar' on it (basically - if you hit a roo with one, it will lessen the damage to your vehicle). The one thing that has surprised me about kangaroos, from the ones that I have seen dead on the road is how small they are. Really, most of them are the size of a large dog - not these 5'8 creatures that I have been envisioning and I guess they don't linger at the side of the road like deer do (like I was expecting). So I guess what I am trying to say is that my chances of a picture outside of a wildlife park or a zoo aren't that great!

Today we have another picnic planned down by the Swan River and Carley's friend David is going to take us windsurfing. . .should provide for some good laughs (and hopefully pictures) if nothing else!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Stingers, Crocodiles and other things

Greetings from Cairns! Another humid, hot, overcast day. . .at least in this weather, the swelling of my fingers is kept under control and I can bend my fingers! Yesterday I called home to my mom and dad and had a good chat with them. I heard my boy barking in the background and I said that that was because he knew it was his mama on the phone, but really, he was barking at the neighbors going by outside! I don't think my mom and dad are going to want to give Horton back when I come home! One thing I have noticed down here is that absence of dogs in public. I have seen a few here and there, but nothing like what you see in North America and definately no basset hounds! My poor boy would die in this heat!

Oh the joy of stingers! Because of the stingers, otherwise known as jelly fish, I have been unable to swim in the ocean yet, unless I want to don this lovely full-body lycra suit known as a stinger suit. When I was on my SCUBA trip, everyone had to wear one - thankfully I got to wear a wet suite (not that it looks much better ;) I guess these little jelly fish pack quite the punch and if you are lucky enough to get stung by one, you are as good as dead! Serious. Although there is vinegar placed on most of the public beaches if you get stung, you pretty much don't have a hope in hell in surviving the shock and the cardiac arrest that follows. So, just to be on the safe side, I have stayed away from the beaches. . . I will go down to them but I won't even just dip my toe in. And then there are the crocodiles. . . .

Yesterday I drove northwards up the coast up to Cape Tribulation, stopping at every marked "walk" there was. I seem to have developed this liking of "walks" while I have been on this holiday. That and they are pretty much just nice little boardwalks through either the rainforest or the mangroves with interpretive panels. . .really, this is my speed! I really enjoying walking through the rainforests. The sounds and the smells and the sights are truly amazing. . .it is a walk for all of the senses.
Walking through the mangroves on the other hand, well, that is where the edge started to creep in. Everywhere up the coast are these warning signs about crocodiles and how you have to be careful about them and how they are in the rivers and close to the beaches. Well walking through the mangrove, I realized that this was prime crocodile habitat!
Then I also got thinking that why would they put a public boardwalk through crocodile habitat?! In any event, I spent the better part of that walk keeping my eyes posted for 2 beady little eyes that might be stalking me and about what my defense plan would be should one attack me. (Like I would have a hope in hell of surviving!) Then I got to thinking about how bad the pain would be and wondering that if I poked it in it's eyes whether or not it would just be more pissed off or if it would let go of me. Oh the things I think about when I am left to my own devices! In any event, I didn't see any crocodiles! (They warn you not to dangle your feet off of the dock into any rivers around here. . .they will eat you!)
Also during my time going up the coast I got to thinking about how I hadn't seen any greebly creatures yet except for a cockroach in Sydney outside the size of my thumb (which totally freaked me out!) Lo and behold, last walk of the day and I decide to stop off at the outhouse (you know me and my bathrooms) and what do I see as I am walking up there stairs but this big ass spider in it's web off to my left. And when I say big, I mean BIG. This was no Charlotte from Charlotte's web! This was one bigass spider who would give Horton a run for his money. My picture doesn't do it justice but to give you an idea of it's size, it was probably the size of my hand!
Today I am heading off to Perth to see my friend Carly. . .the reason for this holiday. I was supposed to head out this morning but my flight got changed and now instead of flying through Ayers Rock (Uluru) I am flying through Brisbane and am leaving much later in the day. This is giving me an opportunity to check out Cairns a bit since I have pretty much just flown into and driven out of here.
Last night I discovered that they too have white trailer park trash in Australia and they all eat at Sizzler. Yes - I went to Sizzler! I was craving a baked potato, ribs and some salad and I had seen some ads on TV so on my way to my hotel, I passed one and thought to myself - EUREKA! Well that was short-lived! I ended up having the salad bar (finally - some greens) but when it came to my entree time, they were all out of ribs and I really didn't want anything else. While I was there, I witnessed the carnage of buffet eating - Sizzler rivals Bonanza when it comes dining - oh yah baby! I swear, every trashy person was there with their snotty, screaming kid - and me!
One thing that this trip has reminded me, is that I don't really like travelling by myself. I don't mind it during the day but it is at night that I really seem to get bored with myself. At least when I was staying in Sydney, I had Bill to look forward to each night. Right now, all I have to look forward to is supper with my Suduko book (that is keeping me entertained in restaurants!) So here is the call out. . .I am heading to India in late August/early September. . . and am looking for a travel partner - even if for only part of it!

(PS - sorry for the formatting. . .can't seem to figure it out today!)

Monday, January 7, 2008

Finding Nemo!

(this is me and Aidan - my SCUBA instructor)

OMG - what an amazing day - I found Nemo!!!!! Today I went out to the Great Barrier Reef on the Quicksilver - a smaller snorkel/dive boat out of the Port Douglas Marina. There were about 50 people on board with the split being pretty equal snorkelers vs. divers. I decided to try my hand at SCUBA diving as they were offering an introductory sessions . . . let's just say that my first session didn't go well. I LOVE the water and I LOVE snorkeling but I am also very claustrophobic. I have no problem breathing under water and I did very well on the skills portion of my first dive. There I was, under the water about 4 metres down waiting for the next person when I started to have a panic attack (or at least what felt like one) and ended up going to the surface and gave up on that dive. I ended up snorkeling at that part of the reef and to be honest, was very disappointed by what I saw or in this case, didn't see. I felt that I had seen much better fish in both Mexico and Hawaii. I wasn't about to be defeated though. When we got to the 2nd location, I thought "f*%k it - I may only get here once so I had better suck it up and conquer this mind over matter thing" and then I prayed. I prayed A LOT. Seriously, I put turned to my faith in God and I let him guide me through this journey and what a journey it was! The world under the sea is absolutely amazing! Once again, I shed some tears in my snorkel mask (seems to be happening a lot of this trip) and counted my blessings. I am so very lucky to have been able to come down here and to experience the Great Barrier Reef. I ended up going for 2 dives and my deepest depth was 10.6m.

This is Four Mile Beach

It is currently pissing down rain here and is about 30C still. It is supposed to rain like this for a couple of more days up here. . .I guess Cyclone Helen just passed through the north end of the state and this is the reminants of here. The weather in Perth is smoking hot right now and I am so looking forward to some more sunshine. Yesterday it was somewhat overcast and my lily white skin managed to get some colour.

I have included yet another nasty fashion picture. . .this one was taken this morning when I was waiting for my bus for my trip. Gotta love the silver shoes. . .I am sure I am going to get struck down by a bolt of lightening one of these days, but at least I am going to happy when it happens!!!!!

Yesterday was market day here in Port Douglas. I guess every Sunday they set up a market down by the water where the local peddle some of their tacky tourist wares. In amongst all of the tackiness there were a few gems to be had.

I also took a quick drive up to the Mossman Gorge which is up in the Daintree National Park which happens to be a tropical rainforest. On my way there I passed through an Aborigine village. I also realized when I was there, that once again I hadn't let anyone know where I was going and all I could think about were the salt-water crocodiles that live in the rivers and thought that what if one eats me. . .how will anyone know? Will I be able to fight it off? Oh the thoughts that run through my head when I am in the bush! Here is a self portrait of me in the forest. . doesn't do it justice. . .maybe tomorrow pics will be better!
Well I gotta run. . the lady is cleaning up around me and I guessing that my time is almost up. Once again, a most fabulous day. . .probably one of my best in my life! AMAZING!!!!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Blue Mountains and Beyond

Yesterday, which is really today for all of you in Canada - I took the train out to the Blue Mountain National Park - I reckon that this is akin to going to Banff. My personal travel consultant, Bill, suggested that I go down to the Three Sisters when I got to Katoomba and that I could go for a walk aka hike. Now those of you who know me well, know that I don't "hike" - I like to think that I do, but really, I don't. So after checking out the trails at the visitor centre, I started my "walk" - OMG - I damn near died in spots! It was up and down and up and down and cliff edges and then I got to thinking that no one knew where I was going and if something happened to me, would Bill remember what I was wearing so he could tell the authorities. And then I got thinking that if something happened to me, I would try and snap a picture b4 my demise so the authorities would have a bit of a clue as to what happened to me. Well about almost 2 hours of walking I emerged from the forest unscathed and waited for the trolly to take me back to the train station for my 2 hour journey home. I could probably have spent at least 1 more if not 2 more days in the Blue Mountains walking (who would have guessed that I like hiking!)

Transit. . .oh wonderful Sydney transit. . . this city know how to run a transit system. Firstly, there are people who work at each station and can give your directions and tell you what trains to take. Secondly, it seems to move you everywhere. The other day I bought a daytripper pass for $16 and it covered all ferries, buses and trains - all of which I used that day. I have never waited more than 5 minutes for anything in this city when it comes to transit and have found it to be a very effective way to get around.

As I mentioned in a previous post today - I didn't bring a voltage adapter. So that means no hairdryer, no straightener - no iPod rechard (I brought the old iPod - new one still MIA) and the iPod only lasts about 3 hours and then it is toast. So so much for my idea of lounging by the pool listening to music! In any event, the hotel has a hairdryer (yea!) and I reckon that Carly will have one as well, so gone are the days of looking like a drowned rat!

Bill my hotelier, chef, travel consultant has been wonderful! As I mentioned before, I have never met Bill and he has never met me - we just have a mutual friend - Tylor who I think sprung my arrival on him at the last minute. I think the key to a successful trip is to either spend it with someone that you like or spend it with cool people that you meet - in this case it was the later. He has been very patient with me and my 101 questions about Australia - everything from maternity leave benefits (which he so nicely explained that he knows nothing about) to mortgages and mortgage rates to the absence of coloured people here. Every day I would come home with my Bill List (which I would keep track of in my little book that I have with me). Let's just say that I think he humoured me each day!

Well as mentioned in a previous post, I am now in Port Douglas and I have wandered into town and found a much cheaper internet place. Tomorrow is relaxation day and on Monday (which will be your Sunday) I am going diving out at the reef - should be fun!

Until then. . .have a great night!

Pictures. . Finally!

The Sydney Opera House

This is the backfat lady. . .check out the outfit. . .sorry I couldn't rotate the image. . . my technology is limited here!

This is me "walking" aka hiking in the Blue Mountains. . .watch for that blog!

The Sydney Bridge where I had my little breakdown. .

Me at the Gap -no not buying cloths!

Friday, January 4, 2008


Greetings from Cairns - pronounced Cans and Port Douglas!

I am behind on my posts but I don't have my little book with me that I put down little tidbits so I don't forget them when I do my blog - so you probably won't get yesterday's blog until tomorrow. I need to find an internet cafe in Port Douglas as internet is $10 for 30 minutes here at the resort.

So I have finally hit the relaxation portion of my trip but it took until 3pm to reach it. My flight left Sydney this morning at 10am. I took Virgin Blue up to Cairns. I think that they are the discount version of Virgin Atlantic - can't say that I was overly impressed. The seat spacing rivals Air Transat and you have to pay for everything and when I say everything, I mean everything. If you want a glass of water, they will give you a glass of ice and put hot water in it to melt the ice. They charge for water, pop and food. A can of pop is $2.50 - but it is all served with a smile. Thankfully I am only flying with them up to here. . . I am on Quantas for the rest and they are supposed to be much better. Let me tell you, it is a far cry from Executive First on Air Canada. . . .see. . .this princess can do economy!

I have rented a car for this portion of the trip. I seem to have this thing for industrial parks. . . I always seem to find them wherever I go. I took the wrong turn out of the airport (on the right side of the road) and instead of taking some scenic highway up the coast I wound up in an industrial area surrounded by oil tanks. I consulted my trusty little map and managed to find my way back to where I was suppose to be going. . . all the while sitting on the wrong side of the car on the wrong side of the road!!! Thankfully - I have an automatic! One thing about driving down here is that they LOVE their roundabouts aka traffic circles. Now as hard as I might try to signal properly, I only ever turn on my windshield wipers b/c my signal indicator and my wiper thing are reversed and whenever I go to signal, I hit the wipers and the chaos ensues!

It was a lovely drive up the coast (once I got going in the right direction on the wrong side of the road). It kinda reminds me of the sea to sky highway going up to Whistler. . . all of the turns and the narrow road. There are even watch out for kangaroo signs similiar to our deer signs. Still haven't seen a 'roo yet but I am keeping my eyes open.

The resort that I am staying at is nice. I keep having to remind myself that I am in a tropical place and thus resorts will have a tropical feel to them. . .and this one does. Think shell pink and mint green. . .oh yah baby. . .back in the 80s! I only hoping to finally be able to blowdry my hair while I am here, as I forgot to bring a voltage adapter and I have been going with bad hair since I have arrived. . .not a happy girl! I am telling you, I looked like a drowned rat the entire time I was in Sydney. . .I don't have hair that doesn't require doing.

Tonight I am going to head into Port Douglas for dinner. . .the thought of spending $79 on a buffet dinner is a little hard for me to swallow. . even if it is seafood and probably just check out the resort. I spent some time at the pool today but I am trying to ease my lily white skin into the sun. . . I am still terrified of frying! My reef trip is booked for Monday, so tomorrow is a full on relaxation day! Yeah!

Until I find cheaper internet. . . .H

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Bridge, Bay, Bondi, Backfat & Bill

Oh what a lovely day today has been! Bill (the guy that I am staying with - more on him in a bit) helped me plan out my day today and what a great day it has been - although, I think I am a tad crispy in some areas (ie. back of my neck)

I took the train/subway across the Sydney bridge and walked back towards Circle Quay and the Sydney Opera House. While I was on the bridge, I had a good cry. Yes - a cry. In the middle of my walk across the bridge, I realized just how damn fortunate I am to be experiencing this opportunity and just how rich and full my life is. Who would have thought that a bridge could do that to a girl, but it did!

After the bridge breakdown, I wandered around an area called the Rocks - one thing I have noticed is that my feet are swollen from the heat. I don't have cankles yet - but I am sure if you give it another day, my legs will look like tree stumps! I then took the ferry across to Manly Bay - the views from the ferry of the bridge, the opera house and the Sydney harbour are amazing! I have a ton of pictures but for some reason I am having a dickens of a time uploading them onto here. . .I will keep on trying. I think it was on this ferry ride that I started to fry so when we got back to Circle Quay, I bought myself a new hat that shades my neck and it was here while I was waiting of my next ferry - I did the unthinkable - I took a picture of a lady who was wearing a truly nasty outfit!

This woman was wearing what looked like a yellow terry cloth strapless tanktop that zipped up the back with a white skirt and these silver, lace up your leg sandals. Now I know you are probably thinking that that doesn't sound that bad - but it gets better. This woman was 60+ - so in other words, not an age appropriate outfit and it accentuated her back fat! I have a pictures that I will find a way to post b/c it was bad!

Next I took the ferry out to Watson's Bay and then the bus down to Bondi Beach - OMG - the people! It is summer break for a lot of people right now and it was packed! I went into the water up to my knees - the ocean was damn cold and I didn't need to swim that badly. One thing I have noticed down here is that there isn't a lot of fat people - not like the US and a lot of men where Speedos - not a good thing! Why can't guys embrace board shorts or something?! Really, the banana hammock is not appealing. Mind you, they could all think like me (yes, I donned a bikini) and thought - hell they don't know anyone down here so why not?! There is some skin on me today that has never seen the light of day and it did today. There were a few topless people on the beach but there was no way that I was exposing the girls to the sun. . .last thing I need is for them to burn!

Lastly, I am staying with this wonderful fellow named Bill who has so graciously taken me in and doesn't seem to be a mass murderer! Seriously though, he rents my friends Tylor & Viv's terrace from them (they are now in London, England) and when I told Tylor that I was heading down this way, he offered for me to stay at their terrace - so luckly Bill - he gets a house guest! He has put up with my 101 questions and I have written down many more for him for when I get back tonight. . . .the man has the patience of a saint if he is putting up with me!

And oh yah. . . . I am in LOVE. . . . .no, not with Bill, but with Sydney! Yes - she who never wanted to come to Australia in the first place has fallen absolutely in love with the place. I have always been drawn to places by the water - it re-energizes me. This city is absolutely gorgeous and every neighborhood has it's own personality. I think I could spend a month here just getting to know all of the different areas. I am thinking that maybe Shell could open an office here and I could staff it. . .yah, that sounds like a good idea. . . .oh yah, I couldn't bring Horton though. . . so maybe not the best idea. But in any event, I love this city. . .the architecture is amazing and I surprised at how much different areas remind me of New York. . . mom and dad - I can't wait to share some tips with you for your trip here in February.

Well I am going to run. . . I am feeling grimy and have sand in places that shouldn't have sand and Bill will be home soon and he was going to cook me supper. . .maybe have a barbie!

The Bridge Bawler aka Heather

I am a Princess & Down Under Day 1

Well today you are going to get a double dose of my adventures but I have decided to post them in 2 separate blogs b/c they are distinctly different.

First off, my flight. . .my beautiful flight! I can't begin to tell you how great my trip down was. I was thankful to see that I wasn't the only one up front who took pictures and was giddy upon boarding. My understanding was that there were 25 cabin crew for this flight and I would say that at least 10 of them were dedicated to first class. The service was 2nd to none and they treated everyone like royalty. The only downside was that the bed wasn't really that comfortable. About 7 hours into the flight I found an amazingly comfortable position and spend the rest of my flight like that. Basically I felt like I was sitting in the palm of someone's hand.

Before I boarded the plane, I set my watch to Sydney time and I managed to stay awake until about 9pm Sydney time and got about 7 or so hours of sleep and arrived with NO jet lag! Yeah!
(This is the self-serve bar on the plane - there was always something to snack on and drink)

I managed to find where I was staying rather easily. I took a quick shower and then went out exploring Newtown (which is the area of Sydney that I am staying in). A few things that I have noticed - it is bloody expensive here. At the chemist aka drug store, mascara is $27!!! Crazy isn't it?! When I did finally find a Starbucks - a venti, non-fat, no-whip mocha is $6.70! That is enough to cure me of my coffee habit!

After touring around Newtown for about an hour I decided to get on a bus and see where it took me - fortunately I hoped on one that was going into downtown Sydney or the CBD (central business district) as they call it. From there, I came across an information booth and got myself and map and got oriented. The info booth happened to be in front of one of my favorite things - a church! There is some truly amazing architecture down here! From there I went to Darling Harbour and spent the better part of the afternoon just walking around - taking it all in.

The other thing about Sydney is the shopping!!!! And the shoe stores! I saw so many shoe stores and started to get really excited when I quickly learned that people here don't seem to enjoy where quality footwear. Everything is synthetic (hello foot sweat) and is made in China. In fact, all of the clothes are made in China and the chances of an XL fitting over my ta-tas is next to none! So, I have been spared from shopping at least.

I loaded up on Australian sunscreen yesterday - the strongest they sell is a 30 (at $15/bottle) but it seemed to do the trick as I didn't fry like I thought that I would - hell - I didn't even get any colour!

All in all, my first day was good - I survived and I am still having a hard time believing that I am hear!

Now on to day 2. . . .