Sunday, July 5

I want to start by wishing two of my favorite people a happy birthday — Ruthie and Pepere!! I have been missing you guys and look forward to seeing you when I come home 🙂 Secondly, I have started my trip up the coast FINALLY!! It has been full of excitement and I am SO glad I have made it out of Sydney. Thirdly, I have decided to come home after my trip finishes. Probably about early August. As much as I wish I could stay until October or November as I had originally planned, I am one hundred percent out of money. Finding work here – esp in the “winter” months is proving to be quite difficult. I have been stressing about money since my second month here, and I am sick about trying to find work — all the time (I swear fifty percent of my trip has been about finding work, and that is simply not what I came here for).

Anyway, I have made my peace with it. I have learned so much about traveling and myself. If I could do it all over again, I would do a lot of things differently but you live and you learn, don’t you? In a couple of years, I hope to teach English in as a second language in Thailand or Italy or Japan… but we will see. I have a lot to figure out when I get home – hell, I have got a whole wedding to plan!!

Anyway, a recap on my trip up the East Coast (or the first two weeks anyway):

– My last day with the Ernie and Fred we had the most epic pillow fight! Their mom asked me to get their energy out before their 18 hour plane ride to England (first stop China). So we had a pillow fight. It was so funny because I would take them all the way down almost every time I hit them with the big pillows, and they could hardly lift them to hit me back. They were “knackered” by the time I was done with them. Hell, I was knackered by the time I was done with them.

– I packed up all my stuff the next day, and I left half of it at the Harts (they offered to store whatever I didn’t want to bring on the trip with me). It was the best decision I have ever made! I think its an American thing to over-pack the way I did to begin with. Anyway, I have learned to live on a much smaller wardrobe and I have been alright.

– Grace and I stayed two nights in a hostel right in Sydney center — maybe a five minute walk from where the LOKA bus picked us up to head of the coast! It was raining pretty hard when we got on the bus, and our group was so small!! There was only five of us. I knew Grace, and then there was Ben, Aaron and Emma. Our group leader, Jarryd, turned out to be pretty awesome, and of course our group become pretty close pretty quickly.

– Our first stop was Barrington Tops. It was a small house/farm in the middle of absolutely nowhere. It was SO cold when we arrived and we had to strip down and get into wet suits as soon as we got there. We went tubing down the coldest river I have ever set foot in! It wasn’t that exciting simply because I have tubed down the Saxtons River a million times and its way better! But it was fun. I tried not to have to put my hands in the water at all — the wet suits kept our bodies pretty warm though.

– Immediately after stripping off the wet suits, we hopped into the jacuzzi!! It was so nice – in that stinging and numbing sort of way. We were allowed only a three minute shower and I used mine after getting out of the hot tub.

– They made us pizza and hot dogs for dinner that night and we played games to get to know each other. There were three other girls that worked on the farm as well as the man who owned the property all staying there for good. The girls who worked there were doing their three months of farm work in order to gain the second year VISA to stay in Australia (Americans are not allowed to farm work for their second year — in order to stay longer we would have to get sponsorship). Anyway, they were a really great addition to our little group.

– We fed a baby calf less than a two months old, and there was chicks and a dog and a ton or cows around. Kangaroos were everywhere (but not as pets) and the view was incredible. There was no insulation in the house or anything so I was quite cold that night.

– After the ice breaker of the night, the bus ride was much more exciting. Since we were buddies with Jarryd (the tour guide) we played the music we liked and played hang-man. Most of our bus rides were full of fun!

– Our next stop was Spot X. It was like SurfCamp, but called MOJO instead. We stayed in Teepees that night (also pretty cold). There was a big party that night, and we had a big game of truth or dare going so we had some pretty good laughs. Grace had to do the Carlton dance on the table in the lounge (where people who weren’t playing the game were hanging out) and I had to sniff the night manager’s beard (we are STILL laughing about that one). There were a few others, but those were the best ones.

– The next morning we had a surf lesson. It was really fun! Despite the cold, the water was pretty warm and the sun was out so it wasn’t too chilly over all. Because of my week at SurfCamp, I looked like a natural getting up first try lol. The instructor started giving me a few private challenges which was nice.

– We then had a cook-out in a nice little park and went kayaking in a nearby river. Grace and I naturally were buddies, but it was a mistake because we were so much slower than everyone else (both the other kayaks had quite muscular men paddling in the back and Grace and I had me paddling the back). I hadn’t kayaked in ages so it was still fun, Grace and I were determined not the let our lack of speed discourage us and kept telling everyone it wasn’t a race. It was pretty cold though!!

– I got kid of mad because after our surf lesson we were told not to shower because we were going kayaking… and then after we kayaked they brought us to a camp site with no running water or electricity!! I am not one to complain about that kind of stuff, in fact I was all for it! However, I had had only one three minute shower in three days!! I would have been happy to shower after surfing if they hadn’t told me not to. We were supposed to stay in “swags” which are like personal tents that allow you to see the stars. Needless to say, I wasn’t too disappointed when it got rained out and we went back to our teepees at Spot X (with running water and electricity).

– That was our last night with Ben. We just hung out in the TV room messing around and called it an early night. The next day we went cliff-diving in Yamba!! We stopped there just for lunch and a cliff dive, then headed to Byron Bay. The cliff diving was terrifying! I was SOOO scared, but I did it! Nearly a 30ft drop, but I did it! It messed up my tail bone pretty bad when I did it though — its still bothering me and its been over a week.

– In Byron Bay we stayed in a really nice and really friendly hostel – Nomads. We made friends with three girls in our room — all 20 but acted like they were 16. Our first night there we went out, but by the time we got out the door it was about 11 and apparently nothing stays open that late on a Monday. Two of the girls we were with were kicked out of the bar we were at for being too intoxicated. The rest of us were bored with the God-awful live band that was playing so went to bed. I hadn’t been feeling so it was not major loss to me, but an hour later the two drunk girls came back, and one of them threw up on her bed. I moved to a top bunk and she took my bottom one after her friend got her taken care of. However, our room smelled like vomit for the rest of our four night stay in Byron.

– The next morning, Grace and I went kayaking with dolphins! It was so amazing!! For those of you that know Finding Nemo — the part with the turtles floating down the EAC (East Australia Current) — that’s where I was kayaking!! Right on the EAC dude! There were TONS of dolphins. It was really incredible. They were in front of us, behind us, and on either side!! We weren’t close enough to touch them, but almost close enough! We paddled out farther in order to try and see some whales (we had seen some around that area when we did the lighthouse walk the day before), but we weren’t able to see any that day. The group that went the next day saw whales, but few dolphins. We were also hoping to see sea turtles, but didn’t manage to see any.

– When kayaking, they had us in wet suits in order to stay warmer. One of the instructors gave me the world’s tightest wet suit (and I have put them on plenty of times now! I know how tight they are supposed to be and that the tighter the warmer and all that, but this one was simply too small). I couldn’t even stand up straight in the thing. Paddling was a struggle! First thing I did on land, was take the damn thing off. I was given a helmet that was wayyyyy too big for my head — even on the smallest setting so I think the guy just had something against Americans or something LOL.

– When we were coming in, we were supposed to “surf the wave” in our kayaks. Grace and I went first — I fell out, but in comparison the rest of the group I think we did pretty good! haha

– I should specify that this “tour” I am on is only semi guided. Some of our stops include activities with our little group (and people come and go depending on how long they decide to stay at each stop). Some of our activities are things we plan on our own. So my kayaking group was bigger and full of people I did’t know. Up until Byron Bay, we had stuck with our small LOKA group.

– We had four nights in Byron, but unfortunately it rained for the better part of our stay. It was frustrating because beach days are wonderful and FREE!! When it rains and you are living in a hostel … there is very little to do. We ended up going out out of sheer boredom. However, it might have been one of the best nights on the trip so far! We had such a random group of people out with us — many of which were people we had met that night at the hostel. It was so much fun! The dancing part of the bar was set up with a bunch of picnic-table-like tables, and that’s what we danced on!

– Our last day in Byron was gorgeous. We spent the day on the beach and then did the light house walk. It was lovely. The hostel was good because it hosted things like movie nights, trivia, ping pong competitions etc.

– The next morning we had to catch a 7am bus to Surfer’s Paradise. We arrived at 9am, and checked into our hostel. It was great because Grace, Aaron, Emma and I all requested to be in the same room. Then Doug (from Scottland who just joined our tour) joined our room, and was meeting a friend who looked just like Robert Pattinson, so all 6 of us stayed in the same room. We all really hit it off, and the hot tub was great!

– Grace’s and my favorite restaurant in Sydney was Pancakes On The Rocks, and we knew there was a brand new Pancakes in Surfer’s. So after checking in, we immediately went to the restaurant. It was amazing!! We actually ended up going again the next day. We kept it pretty low-key when we were at Surfer’s. We went to the arcade and played Bumper Cars (or DodgeEms here lol). It was all really fun — and our little group was a blast.

– Our next stop was Brisbane. Brisbane is a real city with a lagoon in the middle. I like the city a lot. We were there for three nights. Our bus dropped us off at a hostel 15minutes from the hostel Grace and I were actually staying in. So we has to walk with ALL our things to where we were staying. We didn’t speak the whole time…It was awful and quite hot as well!

– Our first full day in Brisbane, we went to the Australia Zoo. We were actually quite disappointed in the zoo. Taronga (in Sydney) was loads better! So much bigger, there was way more animals. In the Australia Zoo, they had a cheetah but they didn’t have an enclosure for him. So they kept him on a leash and the staff walked him around. It kind of broke my heart to see the fastest animal in the world on a leash being casually walked. It also POURED rain all day (or as the English say, “it was pissing it down”), which made it kind of miserable. But we still had a good time. Grace and I went with Dougy (our Scottish friend we met in Surfer’s), Aaron and Emma.

– We watched several little “shows” with the animals to keep us busy (because we booked the 7:30am bus and weren’t going to leave until 4:30pm). The tiger show was the best! They were like really big dogs! It was great. We also went to a bigger show with birds and crocodiles. It was kind of dumb, but the crocodile part was pretty good. The crocodile wasn’t taking his cues like he was supposed to, which made it kind of funny. One of the staff members working with the croc kept getting in the water with him when he wasn’t supposed to, and the announcer had to keep reminding him that he should “definitely not be in the water with the crocodile right now” LOL. Nothing bad happened, but the crocodile was definitely being a little shit, which I found more entertaining than if he was following all his cues.

– The next day, Grace and I walked around Brisbane a lot. It was a gorgeous day (which we deserved after all the rain at the zoo). We went to the lagoon with Dougy, and then to Minions. I wasn’t totally impressed by the movie, but it was cute. Grace and I got Dominos after the movie, and then just chilled.

– The next day we grabbed our bus to Noosa. Jarryd (our first tour guide) was our bus driver, which was great because we had been missing him! It was nice to be able to say a proper goodbye to him. He picked us up at our hostel so we didn’t have to walk with all our stuff back to the other drop-of point. He said our hostel was the other drop-off point in Brisbane … but the other bus driver clearly didn’t know that — or at least didn’t mention it. -__-

– We only stayed at Noosa for one night, and the next morning we caught a 7am bus to Rainbow Beach. We had a pretty big group at this point, and were able to meet loads of more new people, which was great! From Rainbow the group of us got into three 4×4 cars, and then drove onto a boat that dropped us at Fraser Island.

– From there, we drove to our hostel on the sandy beach! We had lunch at the hostel, and then drove on the sandy paths in the woods to Lake MacKenzie. It was the most beautiful lake I had ever seen! The water was the clearest blue! It was a bit too cold for me to want to go swimming, but I relaxed in the sun and the lake was just beautiful. We had the small 5-seater car, and everyone LOVED the music on my iphone. It hasn’t been updated with new music in years, but everyone was loving the oldies. Aaron didn’t hold back on belting out all the girly songs either!!

– After Lake MacKenzie, we went back to the hostel for dinner (steak, potatoes, corn and veggies — solid dinner!). The rest of the night our group hung out together. Starting getting a closer knit group.

– The following day, we went to Champagne Pools. On the way we stopped at Wreckage of S.S. Maheno. Because we are in the winter months it felt too chilly for me to get into the water at Champagne Pools. Some people still did, but I didn’t want to be cold the rest of the day. Oysters are all of the rocks, and they can slice your feet right open if you cut yourself — so we had to be super careful climbing on the rocks. The best part were the whales in the distance. We could see them coming out of the water and their tales popping up as well. It was pretty amazing.

– From there, we went to Indian Head. (TO COME: write the story to Indian Head rock) Beautiful views there as well. From Indian Head we had lunch and then went to Eli Creek. Eli Creek is a little stream that eventually runs into the ocean. The water is totally purified so we were able to fill our water bottles with the water from the creek. We waded in and walked down the creek, but no one got in because of the chilly wind. We tried to play baseball on the beach — made interesting by the strong wind. It was pretty fun!

– That night we chilled as a big group again. Toward the end of the night a smaller group of us went to the beach to go “ding hunting”. The beach was closed because apparently a group of 6 had been attacked by the alpha male. They had to have done something to provoke the dingo because one dingo wouldn’t attack a group that size. But from what I understand, they will be putting the dog down as a result. They are not kept as pets, and they made it clear upon our arrival that dingos are a very real threat on Fraser Island.

– The next day we went to Lake Wabby. It was about a 45 minute hike from where we drove. The whole walk was on beachy sand, and then we were among tons of sand dunes. We walked down the dunes to the lake and it was GORGEOUS! We stayed there about an hour, and then walked back. We had lunch at the hostel and then headed back to Noosa. We had the best car from the last couple days though! Grace, Aaron, Jordan, Scotty and me — our little Fraser family.

NOTE: Pics to come!!

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June 14, 2015

Wow! It has been ages since my last post. I haven’t had a ton to share recently because I am essentially a mom (with some time off of course), but I will share a bit about my last six weeks with the Harts.

– I feel I have been extremely lucky to have been placed with such a wonderful family, and I am so sad to be leaving the kids. I have fallen in love with them, and I can’t imagine getting up every morning without their little faces greeting me!

Fred and Ernie messing around before school

Fred and Ernie messing around before school

– Ernie is probably one of the sweetest boys I have ever met. He is so caring and is always willing to take the pink cup when Fred refuses to drink from it or take the second shower. He is really laid back about almost everything, but is so funny about his clothes and socks and stuff. He socks can’t be wrinkled at all before he puts his shoes on or he takes them off to fix his socks. I literally had to tie up his shoes 5 times one morning, and even then I had to threaten “car snacks” if he took his shoes off one more time. He also hates wearing a jumper/sweat shirt. He generally hates anything with long sleeves.

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Window says “baby its cold outside” — coldest day of the year is 55 degrees… best winter ever!

– One day there was a sport carnival at school, and Ernie needed a red shirt (he had grown out of the ones he already had). I went all over town looking for one, but there was nothing in Mosman so I took the bus to this gigantic shopping center. I wound up in Target, and was able to find plenty of plain red shirts. However, Aussies take their 65-degree winters super seriously, and only sell long sleeves at this time of year, but I had no choice. Beth said she would cut the sleeves off if she had to (she didn’t!). Finding this one red shirt took the entire day. By the time I got back it was time for me to pick the boys up from school. Nanny problems… LOL.

Ernie, age 7, has the most beautiful blue eyes I have ever seen!

Ernie, age 7, has the most beautiful blue eyes I have ever seen! Being a goober with his vest.

– The other thing with Ernie is that he is a bit dramatic. He fell down the stairs at school, and the school called Beth and she called me. I was told he was unable to put weight on his knee and that it was bruised and swollen and he needed to go to the doctor. Beth said she wasn’t too concerned because he can be a drama queen at times, but asked me to get him from school and bring him to the doctor. She said if it was serious, she would obviously come home from work. I start freaking out at this point — thinking the poor kid broke his leg. I booked it to the school only to find Ernie in the nurse’s office with a skinned knee. And I am talking not even a bad skinned knee — no swelling or bruise. I couldn’t believe it. The nurse said I shouldn’t bother bringing him back to school because he would be more comfortable resting it for the day. I am surprised the doctor didn’t laugh when she saw him limping (yes! Limping) into her office. He refused to walk normally, but I saw him walk up the stairs perfectly so I knew he was fine. The doctor sent him back to school — after an $80 charge for a band-aid. The rest of the week was a nightmare. He wouldn’t put his knee in the the bath or get it wet. He would have melt downs about the little cut on his knee, claiming it was hurting him so badly he couldn’t walk at all. It was ridiculous.

Ernie on our ice cream date

Ernie on our ice cream date

– One day, Fred had a play-date so I took Ernie for an ice cream and to the local library. Because Fred has such a big personality, I think one-on-one time with Erns was really great for both of us.

– During the week, the boys are not allowed to play with electronics. TV and ipads and video games are not allowed until Friday night through Sunday night. One day, Ernie had a friend over on a Thursday and after his friend left he told me they had snuck the ipads into his room and been playing them for an hour! He would have gotten away with it but he is the most honest kid in the world and ratted himself out!

They refuse to smile for me when I get a camera out. They make the weirdest faces!

They refuse to smile for me when I get a camera out. They make the weirdest faces!

– Fred loses his temper easily, especially when he is exhausted. But he is such a cutie! He can get really goofy and silly, and he loves drawing games for me to play and worlds for me to live in complete with “Badies” that I have to beat. Ernie also creates these games, but Fred creates one everytime he draws. At one point he even drew me a certificate for being “terrific” and for “trying really hard at his games.”

Fred, age 5, has these adorable chubby cheeks and the softest skin.

Fred, age 5, has these adorable chubby cheeks and the softest skin. His eyes are more a hazel/green color.

– Some of my favorite moments with Fred are right before he goes to bed, and I read him a book. He is calm and snuggly and just the sweetest little thing. He always asks me to read to him, even when his parents are the ones putting him to bed. I think that will be the part I miss most with him. He has a little Tasmanian Devil stuffie that he bought with his own pocket money, and he calls him Mr. Tasmanian Devil (yes, I know, most creative name ever LOL), and I always have to hunt him down after the book so I can tuck Freddie in with Mr. Tasmanian Devil. Once he left Mr. Tasmania Devil in Mum’s car, and she wasn’t going to be home until late so I had him sleep with Pugsley (my stuffed bear), and he loved it.

Having too much fun for bed.

Having too much fun for bed.

– After that the boys were obsessed with Pugsley. They would sneak into my room and hide him somewhere in the house and make me find him. They found the whole game hilarious. They usually gave away what room he was in by saying something like “he is definitely not in the lounge” — meaning it definitely was! haha.

Snuggles before school!

Snuggles before school!

– One night they were asking me about TJ, and when I showed them a picture they were surprised that he wore glasses. They started being total goof-balls and pretending to be TJ without his glasses (which, according to them, is completely and utterly blind). They began proposing to chairs and asking if he proposed to the wrong person before he proposed to me because he couldn’t see me! LOL They were cracking themselves up.

– Fred’s little family nickname is Puff or Puffle! I think its just the cutest little thing. For some reason it really suits him. I couldn’t help but to join in.

Play-date Fridays! Ollie (Fred's friend) in the middle.

Play-date Fridays! Ollie (Fred’s friend) in the middle. Naturally, no one would smile for me.

– This last week with the boys has been a tough one at times. They leave for the UK tomorrow night, and neither of them have had play dates in a few weeks. They are just sick of each other! The whole time I have been here, the boys have hardly fought with each other but this last week they have been at each other’s throats. I simply have no tolerance for tattle tales, especially when it is “Fred is annoying me.” So I have done my best to keep them in separate rooms (though then they complain they are bored!) Anyway, we have done a ton of puzzles!

Puzzling times. 8 puzzles. One week.

Puzzling times. 8 puzzles. One week.

– I also got to know some of the parents of the boys friends, and I am also sad to say goodbye to them. Lucy has said that I should call her with anything through my travels. She has been really sweet, and it was really great of her to offer me that kind of support.

Ollie! Such a good ice cream eater.

Ollie! Such a good ice cream eater.

– I spend my weekends with friends from UltimateOz (mostly) that are in Sydney. Alicia has a hot tub at her place, so I have spent many hours relaxing in that. My first weekend with the Harts, a group of us rented a car and went to Palm Beach. It was just over an hour’s drive. The whole day was full of laughs! We had a great time. We stopped at a harbour on the way back just to wee and took a walk around, but I guess we parked in a 5-mins only parking spot. We couldn’t have been there more then ten minutes, but we wound up with a $175 ticket…So that sucked. We did split it five ways, so it could have been worse, but we were kicking ourselves all the way home.

This is the view we got for our $175 ticket...

This is the view we got with our $175 ticket…

– The next weekend, Sam, Alicia, Chloe and I all stayed at WakeUp! hostel. That is where we all met, so we thought it would be fun to bring it back to where it all began. We got all dressed up and we were going to go to Vivid (a light show at the opera house and Circular Quay). We started the night at SideBar (literally attached to WakeUp!). It is a terrible bar. We said we weren’t going to go there at all, but we were hanging out with some guys who wanted to start there. Anyway, we never ended up leaving and before I knew it, it was 3am! It was an awesome night though. It really is who you are with and not necessarily where you are or what you are doing.

Me, Chloe and Alicia at VIVID

Me, Chloe and Alicia at VIVID

– The following weekend, we went to Alicia’s for hot tubbing. We went to Circular Quay for Vivid, and while we made it to Circular Quay this time, we only caught the last 5 minutes of the lights because we didn’t get there until nearly 11. We called it a night then, and I stayed at Alicia’s to help move her to a new apartment the next day. Luckily, I catch a ferry home from Circular Quay to get back to Mosman, so I was able to check out the lights the last few weekends VIVID was going on. The ferry is great because the view of the opera house and the bridge when I come into town is amazing! It never gets old.

The Palm Beach crew. Jess, Sam, me, Chloe and Alicia (in that order).

The Palm Beach crew. Jess, Sam, me, Chloe and Alicia (in that order).

– Last weekend, Chloe and I went to Scary Canary together. I had been there one other time. It’s a bar full of backpackers and travellers, and has been attended by the people on Geordie Shore (basically the UK version of Jersey Shore. I don’t care much about that, but most of my friends here are into it LOL). So while it has been extremely fun both times I went, I don’t think I would want it to be a regular spot. When we were at the bus stop, it was about 40 mins for the next bus (and it was already after 4am). We were having a good time waiting though. There were plenty of people waiting for the same bus so we were making friends. Then one of the guys we had met at Scary Canary said he would get a cab. I was the first stop so I said my goodbyes, but apparently it ended up being over a $60 cab! I felt bad about not offering to pay a portion, but then again I was totally fine with waiting for the bus soooo I didn’t really feel that bad LOL.

Opera House during Vivid!

Opera House during Vivid!

– This weekend Chloe and I finally made it to Newtown! I have been wanting to go out there since I arrived. I have heard nothing but great things (well, until recently I have heard a lot of stuff about violence in the area sooooo that was a bit nerve-wracking, but Chloe and I stuck together). Newtown has definitely got that towny feel (rather than city), and it was a great way to change things up. Apparently it is known as a gay and lesbian friendly area. Anyway, I loved it. We went to Zanzibar, and there was a rooftop bar as well as a dance area down stairs. It was a funky little bar. Chloe and I danced the night away, and it was so much fun! We stayed in a pretty decent hostel for the night, so it was all great fun.

Pig piles with Chloe and Alicia.

Pig piles with Chloe and Alicia.

– Beth and Sam had told me about this great burger place in Newtown, and so I gave Aussie burgers one last chance. It was worth it! They were really good! The place was sketchy though! It is the definition of a place you would call a “hole in the wall”. Chloe and I walked by it twice. If Sam and Beth hadn’t told me what it was like, I am not sure I would have even bothered to go in. There was no sign or anything, just a white door with graffiti all over it. The place is called Mary’s, and we went in and it was super dark inside with skeletons and other creepy street art painted on the walls and the music was really loud. We could hardly hear each other. But the burgers were great and so were the fries! I have finally had an Australian burger satisfy me, so I can’t complain.

Weekends in the hot tub

Weekends in the hot tub

– I have been having so much fun with this whole engagement thing too! Boys will start chatting my friends and me up, and I will go with it for a while. Eventually Chloe or I will drop the bomb that I am engaged… the looks on their faces!! Hahaha gets me every time! LOL

Out tonight!

Out tonight!

– Today, Chloe and I spent the day in the city. It wasn’t too cold so we hung out in the sun at the Opera Bar. Taking in the view of the bridge and opera house. All in all, it has been a really nice weekend.

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Me and Alicia from our trip to Palm Beach.

Anyway, that about sums up my last six weeks. It has been quite an adventure. I am kicking myself for not nannying sooner. I have loved it, and am considering nannying again after my East Coast trip. Sam and Beth have said they would love to have me back. They have been really great! I leave for the East Coast on Friday!! Grace comes back to Sydney on Wednesday, and I am looking forward to catching up with her again. I feel like it’s been ages since I have seen her. I can’t believe the East Coast is FINALLY happening!! 🙂

May 5, 2015

Another month since I last posted! Time is really getting away from me, but I didn’t want to post until I had a few things sorted out. TJ and I had a really great time together! He went home about two weeks ago.

A recap:

– After Fiji, TJ and I were back in Sydney. We stayed in my apartment, and I continued working at Cafe Bondi. On my days off we walked around Sydney. We saw the Opera House, walked across the Harbour Bridge, went to Darling Harbour etc.

View of the Opera House from the Harbour Bridge

View of the Opera House from the Harbour Bridge (photo credit to TJ Mumford)

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– I showed him China Town. We went to the world’s best gelato place in ChinaTown (UltimateOz referred us there when I first arrived.) They make all the gelato right there in front of us with liquid nitrogen. Their sundaes are limited, and change every 4-7 days, but they are always amazing! Pictured below “Double-O-Cheesecake” and some sort of s’more flavor.

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– TJ and I did the Coastal Beach walk (from Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach — the beach I live by to the beach I work by). I showed him one of my favorite places in Sydney. My UltimateOz guides showed us this spot. When Grace and I moved to Coogee we ended up quite close to it! The hole is so fun, and the views from this spot are incredible!

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– We also went to the Taronga Zoo, which was really fun! It was the second time I had been, but just as cool! We went to dinner on Darling Harbour afterward. I had quite possibly the best lasagna I have ever had! All in all, it was a really great day! There were are a few sections in the zoo where we could walk right into the pens, and kangaroos, quakas, emus and wallabies all run wild. We saw and got really close to a kangaroo with a baby in it’s pouch!

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Mother and baby kangaroo! They almost look fake!

– TJ’s last full day was his birthday. We went to brunch with Grace and Chloe. Then we did a shorter section of the Coastal Beach Walk from Coogee to Maroubra. However, the weather was insane! It was like walking through a hurricane the wind was so strong. But the weather made it fun and memorable! So no regrets! It was really sad saying goodbye to TJ, but he is hoping to come back in the Fall (US Autumn — Australian Spring).

Oh yeah, Grace and I also popped an entire bag of party poppers on TJ for his birthday! Happy 24th!

Oh yeah, Grace and I also popped an entire bag of party poppers on TJ for his birthday! Happy 24th!

– The day after TJ left, my boss from Cafe Bondi called to say that the cafe was simply too slow, and he was cutting staff down. The whole cafe was going to close for a few weeks while the owners figured out their next steps… So that ruined my day. I went to the UltimateOz office after I got off the phone. I asked about au pair work, and met with the woman who runs the agency connected with UltimateOz the next day. Later that week, I met with a family who hired me!

Just trying to push TJ off a cliff

Just trying to push TJ off a cliff

– Grace and I went to Cockatoo Island, where we had been trying to go for ages now. Way back when, the convicts made ships on the island that were used through WWI and WWII. We were both a bit disappointed with the island, we had considered camping out and spending a weekend there! Thank God we didn’t, we ran out of things to do and see within couple of hours. I am glad we went and saw it, but I probably wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. However, it was free so I can’t complain! LOL

Grace found a bird at Cockatoo Island

Grace found a bird at Cockatoo Island

– It was Alicia’s 30th birthday that weekend, so Grace, Chloe and I went to her apartment, met with some more friends (mostly from UltimateOz) and then we went out in Sydney Center. It was a really great night!

Not a great photo... but the best of the night of the whole group :/

Not a great photo… but the best of the night of the whole group :/

– The following week was extremely slow moving! As I am trying not to spend money with my East Coast trip coming up, I was going a bit stir crazy. The weather has been awful — pouring rain nearly every day since TJ has left. The internet at Rob’s was awful, and got even worse when it rained. The last 3 or 4 days I was there, we had no internet at all.

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Chloe, Grace and I

– Needless to say, I was certainly ready to leave on Sunday when I moved into the Hart family’s home! Their house is just beautiful! They live in Mosman, which is actually quite close to the Taronga Zoo, and it’s an extremely nice part of Sydney. I take care of two boys – Ernie (age 7) and Fred (age 5). Today is only my second day, and their old au pair is still here kind of showing me the ropes. But the boys are really sweet! And their accents make them even cuter!

My new home for the next 6 - 7 weeks!

My new home for the next 6 – 7 weeks! Not a great photo but the lighting is weird in the middle of the day.

– Both parents work in the TV industry, and their jobs sound pretty interesting. Beth (the mother) is actually from the UK, and they are going to the UK in 6 weeks (which is when I will be heading up the East Coast). Here I have my own room with a double bed and my own bathroom! There is plenty of closet space and hangers and the internet works splendidly!

My new room!

My new room!

– Also, I have now driven on the LEFT side of the road.. too weird! I am going to be all messed up by the time I get back to America. I really have to think when I do any turns or am at an intersection. I really only need to drive the boys to school and back, so it’s not that bad. However, it will take some getting used to.

– As I said, I have only been here two days, but I do think I will be quite happy here for the next 6 weeks!

Anyway, that’s all for now! I will post again soon-ish!

April 6, 2015

Wow! I cannot believe its been a month since I last posted!! So much for posting every week or two… I should work on that. I have been keeping a pretty low-key existence these days — just trying to save for the East Coast trip. We are leaving May 22, and I have paid for the trip and everything so I am definitely going to leave Sydney pretty soon!! I can’t wait! 🙂

Cafe Bondi - my work.

Cafe Bondi – my work.

It has been a bit frustrating because I am hardly breaking even. My hours and pay are not improving much at the cafe… So saving anything is essentially impossible. I also hate my boss. I have never hated a boss the way I hate this one. I like my manager and the other girls that work there, but whenever the owner of the restaurant is in, I consider quitting. She treats all of us like crap. Another new girl and I talked about it today, so it made me feel a bit better to know that I am not the only one who thinks she treats people so poorly.

Anyway, TJ came to Australia exactly two weeks ago tomorrow and we came back from Fiji last week. I’ll do my best at recapping the month:

– Grace, Katie and I went to the Mardi Gras parade for Mardi Gras! That was wild! Sydney is known for their Mardi Gras celebrations so it was pretty exciting to see all the craziness and the support for equality!

– Grace, Sarah, Katie and I also went to show at the opera house. It was like an acrobatic show, and it was awesome! We had a really great time together! We got the cheapest seats for like $25, but we were upgraded to 3rd row when we arrived!!

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– We also went to the horse races. I bet nothing more than a dollar or two on a couple races… didn’t win anything, but it was really fun! We got all dressed up and pretended like we knew what we were doing lol.

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– It was Chloe’s birthday as a few weeks ago, so we went out for her bday, but other than that we have kept weekends to movie nights and dinner or something cheap and simple, but its been fun!

– TJ arrived a couple of weeks ago. He came in at 7am on a Tuesday and we spent two nights in Sydney. We got Thai food and then he got stuck coming to my hair appointment. I got a really great Groupon and wasn’t able to get an appointment until that afternoon. Poor guy got stuck sitting through almost a 3 hour appointment! They had totally overbooked the salon.

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– Wednesday we spent the day on Darling Harbour and just hung out. We discovered this great little crepe place. Our personal favorite was the Nutella, marshmallow, banana and strawberry!

– Thursday morning we flew to Fiji. After a 4.5 hour flight, we landed at about 5 o’clock. We found transportation to the resort, and the resort was about 2 hours away. We didn’t get there until 8 that night.

Our last morning there it rained, but in Fiji, even the rain is beautiful!

Our last morning there it rained, but in Fiji, even the rain is beautiful!

– The weather was beautiful there the entire week! it was mid 80’s the whole time and always sunny! The resort was gorgeous! Unfortunately there was not much of a beach, but it was still super wonderful! They had a free breakfast buffet every morning, and that was fabulous! There were two restaurants, a pool grill and a lunch/dinner buffet with different themed food every day. It was great!

– The pool bar was also amazing! I didn’t even know such a thing existed! The pool was amazing, and there were a couple bartenders there that were really wonderful! We would order and pay for one drink, and the bartenders kept them coming for free until we had to start turning them down. Everyone that worked there was unbelievably nice!

Minnie (the tall one -- how ironic!), me, TJ and Veka! Our favorite bartenders

Minnie (the tall one — how ironic!), me, TJ and Veka! Our favorite bartenders

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– The Fijians ate lamb and potato curries and rice. We also sat in on a little presentation about how the villagers make baskets out of grass and how they use coconuts for kava bowls. We were able to eat coconut and drink the milk out of a straw. It tasted different depending on how ripe the coconuts are.

– We also went snorkeling! It was so cool! The driver threw a tube off the back of the boat and then TJ and I hung out to the tube while we hung on with snorkeling gear on. We found Nemo, Marlyn, Gill, Dory and blue starfish and all kinds of stuff! It was incredible.

Selfie with the blue starfish

Selfie with the blue starfish

– Our last night there we watched a firewalking show! So 500 years ago, Tunaivilaqa of Nakarovu village went searching for an eel, but found a little man. The little man said he could make him very rich, but Tunaivilqa did not need any money. So the little man gave him and all his descendants the ability to walk on fire from that day forth.

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– As for the biggest news in Fiji… We got ENGAGED!!! TJ proposed on March 30, and since it is now Facebook official I suppose it can be official in my blog as well! We had been at the pool for a while and went up to the room around 4 or 5 to change before dinner. When we got up to the room there was a note on the bed — the maids sometimes left notes that said “bula” or “how are you” or “welcome home” on the bed, so I went to read this one… and it said “marry me” with flowers and an open ring box!!! Naturally a burst into tears and hugged him. Eventually I did manage to say “yes”!

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– Naturally Ruthie and Lauren were the first to know, and we eventually told most of our friends and family through this past week. My mom announced it at Easter to her side of the family. I was trying to call and tell everyone with TJ, but the time difference was too much and there was a miscommunication. Anyway, everyone knows!! Now it is a battle of who will be my maid of honor… Ruthie or Lauren??? I am leaving it up to them lol.

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a little photo collage of our trip

– I can’t wait to come home for Christmas and see everyone and begin the wedding planning!! But for now, I am still enjoying my time in Australia!

a close up of my beautiful ring!! :)

a close up of my beautiful ring!! 🙂

– By the time I get up the East Coast, I will only have about 3-4 months left of traveling. Since I want to spend some time in New Zealand and Thailand at the end of my trip, I hope to spend about a month doing farm work in or near Perth and then another two months of Au Pair work in Melbourne. Both those jobs will pay for my accommodation, so the money will be mostly all to keep.

I am looking forward to heading up the East Coast. I am so glad I went to Fiji when I did because I am not sure I would have had the time or funds to go at the end of the trip when I was originally planning. I have only been here three months! It’s hard to believe I have only been in the country that long… only known Grace that long!

March 5, 2015

Good news!! I am employed! I am on my 2nd week, which makes this the longest I have held a job in the past 3 months. I am considering that progress! It’s not the best pay… and I am not getting too many hours just yet. I think things should improve next week.

Anyway, a recap:

– A couple days after I applied to all those jobs in Coogee, I got a call from Cafe Randwick (right down the road). They own another cafe in Bondi, so I started working there now. The people working there are really sweet, so I can’t complain. (I will post a picture as soon as I have one!)

– The following weekend, Katie, Grace and I went to Pancakes on the Rocks. I got crepes with cream cheese and raspberry filling and it was divine! Katie’s meal is also pictured below – chocolate pancakes with raspberry, strawberry and coconut.

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– The next day, we went to the Taronga Zoo and Wild Ropes. The zoo was definitely a good one. It was quite big! We saw a baby gorilla that was one a few weeks old! It was precious. We brought a little picnic along so that was also really nice. However, the gigantic and exotic and LOUD birds wouldn’t back off because of it.

Worlds largest lizard

Worlds largest lizard

– Wild Ropes is a ropes course at the zoo, wayyyyy scarier than I had originally thought! However, it was super fun!! We got to do two different courses, one low and one high and we did the more difficult of both. My fingers could bearily straighten afterward because I had been gripping so hard! But it was definitely worth it! I was last so I got helpful hints from both Katie and Grace. So nice being the youngest sister for once 🙂

– Sunday we beach hopped. Grace, Katie and I walked from Bondi to Coogee Beach, stopping at all the beaches in between (6 total). It was a nice and relaxing day.

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– Sunday night, we went to China Town for dinner and then watched the Chinese New Year parade! It was great! I don’t think any parade will ever compare to that one.

Chinese New Year Parade

Chinese New Year Parade

– I try to lay low on my days off when Grace and Katie aren’t around so I can save as much money as I can. I have enjoyed my stay in Syndey… but I feel as though I am ready to move on. Unfortunately, I do not yet have the funds to move and Grace has committed herself to her job for at least 3 months and must give 4 weeks notice. I am looking forward to my trip up the East Coast though, and getting out of the city.

– We said good bye to Alex, Chris and Alice this week. It was sad to see them go… Alex and Chris are heading up the East Coast while Alice went to Melbourne. I can’t wait until its me and Grace leaving! Alicia is leaving Sydney on Monday, and Katie only has one more week with us. Chloe has just come back to Sydney, so we are welcoming her back with open arms!

Chris, Alex, Alice, Alicia, Grace and me , the whole crew!

Chris, Alex, Alice, Alicia, Grace and me , the whole crew at mine and Grace’s place

– We had a final dinner at Pancakes on the Rocks with all of them in order to say goodbye. The service was awful, but the food was good. I had chocolate pancakes this time, they were delicious but the crepes were better.

– Last weekend, Katie came over and we just stayed in and watched a movie and ate junk food. The next morning we went to a National Park (I need to double check which one…) with big plans to go hiking. It was so hot we got maybe fifteen minutes into the hike and decided to go back and eat the picnic we had brought. It was damn hot we didn’t end up getting back to hiking (turns out it was 100 degrees!!)

– We still ended up having a really good time. As Grace would say “we take the piss out of each other,” so there is never a dull moment. On our way back into the city, the temperature dropped from 100 degrees to 68 in a matter of maybe 15 minutes and it started pouring! All in all, it was another good weekend. More relaxed than some of the others we have had, but a great time none the less.

February 16, 2015

As of yesterday, I have been in Australia for 6 weeks. I am totally loving it!! However, I am unemployed again…which is a bit worrisome.

Recapping the past 2 weeks:

– Last week I started a fundraising job, but I was fired after my first official 4 hour shift. Australia has been full of firsts for me … I ate kangaroo, went sand boarding, learned to surf and got fired! Sooooo I am back on the job hunt. I hope to have something AGAIN by the end of the week.

This was the sign in the bathroom at work that made me laugh!

This was the sign in the bathroom at work that made me laugh!

– Last weekend was really fun! Grace and I went to see American Sniper Friday night, and the Saturday we checked out a farmer’s market at The Rocks. The stuff there was really neat! We walked across the Sydney Bridge, and then we went to Observatory Hill, and a hotel with a really pretty view at the top floor.

The view from the Sydney Bridge

The view from the Sydney Bridge

– Rob had a BBQ at our apartment with a lot of the people that go to his gym Saturday night. They are all really into this Juice Plus supplement, and so we had a doctor from Perth at the house for the weekend. The Juice Plus pill seems interesting…but they are all a little overboard obsessed with it!! haha

– Anyway, the BBQ was really fun! The people there were really fun, and Rob’s girlfriend has been working with this American girl – Katie – who we met that night and she is a blast! After the BBQ, Grace, Katie and our friend Sophie all went to this bar called Scary Canary (its a big one for backpackers). So that was really fun!

Me, Sophie, Katie and Grace at Scary Canary

Me, Sophie, Katie and Grace at Scary Canary

– Sunday Grace, Chris, Alex and I all went to Manly Beach. We waited over an hour to catch the ferry there, and the beach was quite busy…We had a really good time and even ran into our friend from Ultimate Oz (Chelsie) when she was waiting tables in one of the restaurants there. However, I don’t think Manly Beach is all its cracked up to be. We went to the aquarium there, and it was the smallest aquarium I think I have ever seen. But, all in all, it was a great weekend!

– This past week I tried to get a Mon-Fri administration job, but haven’t heard back from anything so I am going for waitressing jobs now.

– This past weekend was equally as exciting! Friday night Grace, Katie and I went to this really nice Italian restaurant and then saw Fifty Shades of Grey (a pretty disappointing movie). Dinner was fantastic, and the three of us had a really good time together.

– When we were getting out of the movie Rob and his girlfriend were at this little American bar with some of the women from the BBQ last weekend. We hung out there, and then Rob showed us this “special spot” that he and his son go to with a really pretty view of the city.

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– Saturday morning the whole house was woken up at 7:40 for my Valentine’s surprise!! 😀 Even when the U.S. is a day behind, love knows no distance!!

My very first Valentine's bouquet!! My beautiful surprise!

My very first Valentine’s bouquet!! My beautiful surprise!

-Alicia and Alice are both back in Sydney, so we had a big BBQ at our apartment Saturday with Chris, Alex, Alice, Alicia, Sophie, Katie and Grace. Later in the night, we went to the small American bar.

Alex and Grace at the BBQ

Alex and Grace at the BBQ

– Sunday I went to the Blue Mountains again with Chris, Alex, Alice, Colter, Katie and Grace. We had a really great time! We went on the world’s steepest railway and two different cable car/chair lift things. It was absolutely gorgeous, and the group was really fun!

The view of the water-fall from the cable car

The view of the water-fall from the cable car

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The whole crew at the Blue Mountains

– Grace, Katie and I had a blast on the ride home. It was about a 2 hour train ride back to Sydney and I don’t think we stopped laughing the entire time. The whole train car must have hated us! Hilarious though!

Me, Grace and Katie right before the world's steepest train ride!!

Me, Grace and Katie right before the world’s steepest train ride!!

– Today, I went into town and applied to a ton of jobs, bought a book and then chilled at the beach for a while. So it was a pretty good day all things considered.

February 4, 2015

It’s officially been a month since I arrived in Sydney! I am unemployed yet again…third time in 3 weeks — kind of exciting really! I have a few promising positions out there, but I will post again when I am actually employed.

A Recap:

– I got this sales job that sounded like I would be making about 800 – 1000/week (Australian dollars, which is not as good as it sounds but definitely livable wages for me). We started on what they called a road trip, which sounds really fun, but it wasn’t.

My name tag for the Worst Job I Ever Worked (officially!)

My name tag for the Worst Job I Ever Worked (officially!)

– We drove over 3 hours away to a place called Bathurst, and we stayed in this lovely house. Apparently it was the best accommodation any of the other people in the group had experienced in their time with the company.

I guess this gated and locked door in the sketchy area it was located in should have been my first sign that I shouldn't go through with this job....

I guess this gated and locked door in the sketchy area it was located in should have been the first sign that this job wasn’t going to be for me…

– So the job was to go door to door, disturbing people’s lives in order to convince them to change their electricity company to our brand which was supposedly cheaper (and I would get $40 for every sale I made). If you Google the company, however, the reviews are horrendous. All the customers give one star or less and call the company thieves… (I know, I know, what was I thinking?) I honestly should have known better, but they didn’t give us the name of the company until we were already signing papers.

Despite the shit work, the town was really quite beautiful.

Despite the shit work, the town was really quite beautiful.

– Needless to say, the entire week was a nightmare. Of course, there were some really sweet people in the group and that helped a bit. However, I did not make a single sale (and as a result, I didn’t make a single dollar)…mostly because anytime I spoke to someone who was the least bit interested, I would start to genuinely like so I wouldn’t push them to sign up for a company that was going to screw them over. I sat with one older lady for over an hour, knowing after the first 5 minutes she wasn’t going to sign up. She was so sweet though, we talked about how much I hated the job and her grandchildren who were traveling (one in America!).

One of the views from the house we stayed in

One of the views from the house we stayed in

– On my last day I didn’t bother knocking on a single door. I just sat out in the sun (sometimes the shade) and walked around and looked at the beautiful houses and enjoyed the lovely weather…It turned out to be a pretty nice day.

– Boy was I glad to come back to Sydney though! Chris and Alex (a couple we met through Ultimate Oz) and Grace and I all went to Wet and Wild, a water park, on Sunday. It was heaps of fun! It did get pretty cold getting in and our of the water rides, but we had a really great time. We went on one of those slides where the floor drops from under you and you just shoot down the slide! Oh my gosh!! It was a blast!!

Home sweet home!

Home sweet home!

– My landlord is a personal trainer, so I just started training with him this week! I am really excited to get back into shape. I feel so much better everyday getting a work out in. That being said, I can’t walk or move my arms at the moment. Day 4 tomorrow! Here goes nothing…

– Yesterday was Grace’s birthday, so we really spoiled ourselves! A group of us (all from Ultimate Oz) went to the Sydney Tower Buffet! This restaurant sits on top of pole and rotates slowly throughout the meal so you get to see a 360degree bird’s eye view of the the city! It was great! Expensive!! But the food was fantastic!! We had Kangaroo Rump, Emu Sausage, Crocodile Sausage and obviously so much more. We could barely breathe by they time we were walking out. Never ending buffets are dangerous!

Colter, Sophie, me, Chris, Grace and Alex celebrating Grace's 25th!

Colter, Sophie, me, Chris, Grace and Alex celebrating Grace’s 25th!

– I had a hell of a time finding the tower though. Not because I did’t know where it was, but because I kept getting on the wrong bus! When I would look up what bus to take on my GPS, I swear I would get on the correct one, but every time the bus would move I would end up farther away from my destination. I figured it would have to turn around eventually so I stayed on until the bus driver told me it was the last stop. I finally figured out that I was getting on the correct bus, but on the wrong side of the road!!! That has really been the hardest part about moving here…how the Ozzies drive on the left side of the road. I have been nearly run over about 3 dozen times because I always look the wrong way when I am crossing the street, and I have had countless panic attacks when other people are driving and it looks like we are about to get into an accident.

Oh well! You live and you learn! Eventually, I will get used to the whole driving thing… and hopefully get a job as well! Wish me luck on the job hunt! I am hoping to be happily employed by my next post!

January 25, 2015

I can’t believe I have been here almost a MONTH already!! I am definitely not ready to start full-time working again… but my bank account most definitely is! So that will be nice. It’s SO unbelievably hot here!! It hit 96 here today (it’s also so confusing that Americans use Fahrenheit! None of my friends here know what I am talking about when I talk Fahrenheit temps and I am just as confused when they say its boiling at 34 degree! haha)

To re-cap:

– Grace and I moved into our new place at Coogee Beach! (pics to come!) The place is great, on a pretty quiet street. My favorite part is that in the middle of the night I can hear crickets instead of club music and cars.

– Another one of my favorite parts of this apartment is Rob’s cat – Marlin! It is, by far, the ugliest cat ever! But it’s so ugly that its adorable! His tongue and bottom pointy teeth ALWAYS stick out!

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Too much ugly really can equal cute!!

Too much ugly really can equal cute!!

– The worst part about sticking around Sydney for a while is that a lot of our friends have left… We had to say goodbye to some of the good ones! Alicia left before Surf camp, and Louise and “Whitters” began their journey up the East Coast Tuesday morning. Chloe and Laura went up the East Coast last Sunday, and Chelsie moved in with friends or cousins in Newcastle.

"Whitters," Louise, Grace and me

“Whitters,” Louise, Grace and me

– I have been to quite a few job interviews — and let me tell ya, THANK GOD for GPS’s in phones these days! I don’t know how people got around before them. Landed several jobs actually, and I start a sales position tomorrow. Unfortunately, it’s paid solely on commission… But next week, I think I am starting a job in advertisement. I will have more info on that position Wednesday. I interviewed for a position at the Bondi shopping center, and since Bondi is Sydney’s most famous beach, here is a pic I took after the interview when I did the Bondi to Coogee Beach Walk.

The beautiful Bondi Beach

The beautiful Bondi Beach

Pic from the first time I did the Beach Walk with my Ultimate Oz group (from Coogee to Bondi)

Pic from the first time I did the Beach Walk with my Ultimate Oz group (from Coogee to Bondi)

– When I went to interview for this sales position, Grace and I got off the bus WAY too early because we weren’t sure where it was going. I ended up walking about an hour to the interview and arrived a good 20 minutes late. They didn’t seem to mind though (since they did offer me the job by the end of the day).

– Grace and I went to the zoo on Darling Harbour yesterday. It was a fun little visit. We saw a lot of Australian wildlife. As it turns out, 80% of Australia’s wildlife cannot be found anywhere else in the world! And 90% of its reptiles cannot be found anywhere else in the world either.  We saw koalas! But we can’t hold koalas in New South Wales so we will wait until we go to a zoo in Queensland to hold one. We got quite a show from Bill, the koala, he got up and climbed around the branches and everything! That’s quite a lot of movement from a koala — who sleeps 20hr/day and eats the other 4!

If you look closely, you can see the mama and baby koala!

If you look closely, you can see the mama and baby koala!

– We also visited the Chinese Gardens. They were quite pretty, but you could see all the city buildings sticking up from behind all the beautiful greens. So I didn’t bother taking many pictures… It seemed very fake. However, there was a wedding going on when we visited which was exciting.

Waterfall in Chinese Garden

Waterfall in Chinese Garden

– Last night Grace and I had our first night out in Coogee! I think our expectations were a bit high considering it was just the two of us, but we were hoping to make new friends! Some Ozzy guy came over and started stroking my hair and then started talking to us and introduced himself… Needless to say, the convo didn’t last long. His hair was not nearly as soft as mine! haha After Coogee Bay Hotel, we went to the Pavilion – which we had heard really good things about from our landlord (Rob) and a few of his friends – but it was full of old people basically (granted, Rob is 40!) so we didn’t stay there long.

– Today the two of us went to a surf festival in Cronulla. It was so much fun!! I hope we make it to more surf festivals. These people were AMAZING! Now that I know what it takes to surf, I felt like I could really appreciate it. The team we decided to root for ended in 2nd place, and we always supported the lone female on every team! It was interesting trying to figure out how these things worked, I think we have a pretty good idea now though. We were good about sun screen too, so neither of us got burned today. We went to Hog’s Breath Cafe for lunch – sounds disgusting, but we were intrigued – I was somewhat disappointed, and the service was awful, but it was an experience.

The girl we were really rooting for!

The girl we were really rooting for!

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Grace and I have decided to stay an extra month in Sydney! There is simply too much to do around here, plus it gives a more time to save $$$! The best part about staying through most of April, is that TJ can come visit before I begin traveling my butt off! I am so excited to see him again!! And I think by April, a little piece of home will do me some good. We attempted to get his ticket tonight…but failed… Take Two tomorrow! (I know it shouldn’t be this hard… but we will figure it out.) Anyway, my time here in Sydney keeps looking better and better!! 🙂

TJ and I back in Burly....One of our first couple of dates.

TJ and I back in Burly….One of our first couple of dates.

P.S. I just discovered Groupon!! How have I got 23 years without it?!?! Such good deals …makes even the boring stuff seem tempting! haha

Pictured below are some of my Ultimate Oz friends that have moved on from Sydney and are being seriously missed…

Alicia! Looking forward to her b-day at WhitSundays!

Alicia! Looking forward to her b-day at WhitSundays!

Louise in her natural habitat -- Selfie stick in hand #SoChinese hahaha

Louise in her natural habitat — Selfie stick in hand #SoChinese hahaha

Chloe and Laura <3

Chloe and Laura ❤

Dress up day at Surf Camp! Chelsie, Grace and I are babies for the day!

Dress up day at Surf Camp! Chelsie, Grace and I are babies for the day!

January 19, 2015

My trip down unda has been even better than I could have imagined – despite the insane sunburns I have gotten!

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Our trip to the aquarium on Darling Harbour – the top of Alicia’s head, me and Grace

So much has happened since I got off that plane on January 3rd.  It has been exactly 2 weeks since I started my trip with Ultimate Oz.  I have met some spirited and adventurous people since my arrival.

A quick re-cap:

– I thought I was going to die of heat stroke when I got off the plane wearing leggings, a sweatshirt and boots in almost 90 degree weather!

– I met a couple people from my group upon arrival and we planned on grabbing dinner together, and at 6 30 we said we would head out in a half hour – the next time I opened my eyes it was 10pm. We had all fallen asleep!

– Ultimate Oz: We did a guided tour of Sydney, then a cruise through the harbor, ate some of the grossest free pizza known to mankind, and then to BaseCamp!

The view after our "bushwalk"

The view after our “bushwalk”

more of the view, but photos don't capture it!

more of the view, but photos don’t capture it!

– BaseCamp was great!! The whole group really connected. The first day we went sand boarding and fishing for “peepees” (little muscles that we put back on the sand to watch them dig themselves back in) at Port Stephens — about 2 hours from the city center.  We got back and did a bush walk with a gorgeous view of the ocean at the top.

ultimate9 – Drinking goon on the beach (One Mile Beach) at night with the group was probably the best part of BaseCamp

This is me with Josie, the kangaroo at Basecamp.

This is me with Josie, the kangaroo at Basecamp.

– While at BaseCamp (2 hours away from the city at Port Stephens) I was able to see a koala in a tree sleeping, and the best part was Josie, the tame kangaroo who tried to eat my bathing suit! The first time I saw her, a few of us were petting her and trying to get selfies and she sat up and rubbed her belly! It was adorable

– Saturday we had the Ultimate Party (Hawaiian themed).  3 bars and then the 2nd largest club in Sydney!! It was a pretty epic night all things considered. ultimate2

– I just got back from Surf Camp (at 7 Mile Beach)!! Learning to surf was on my bucket list when coming out here! We had a good group with Grace, Louise, Chelsea and Whitney, and we met Sophie as well.  I was getting the hang of it by the end, but it was harder than I had imagined. The waves really wreck you when trying to get out there. surf

– I got the craziest sunburn on my hands too!! The wet suit kept most of my body covered, but my hands roasted and swelled up massively! Without ice on them at all times the were very hot and painful.  They are just now returning to normal sizes. – I got a job at the floating restaurant in Darling Harbour, feels just like I am working on the Titanic! I doubt I will keep the job for much longer though — lacking hours and I would have to work ALL weekends (I want to explore!)

– Yesterday, I traveled some of the Blue Mountains with Grace, Louise and Whitney.  Soooo beautiful! The Three Sisters is definitely worth going to see!

– The best news of the day is that Grace and I found an apartment and we move in tomorrow!! It was the first place we looked at… we pretty much fell in love. It’s right by Coogee Beach, set back a bit from the craziness of the city center, quiet but beautiful, exactly what we wanted. Rob, the landlord, seems like a really great guy! He also owns a gym right down the road and does a lot of personal training! So I am hoping to be in shape in time for my trip up the East Coast!! Plans for the year are changing everyday! I can’t wait to see and experience what else this year has in store for me! IMG_4360