Saturday, January 20, 2007

So much to do!

I LOVE Australia!

Since last time, I have met up with my tour group and started my trip up the east coast of Australia.

It is worth mentioning that this tour group makes the trip amazing. 45 others, just like me, who want to see Australia.

Since leaving Sydney I've seen incredible sights including the sun rising over the Pacific, held a koala, and today I became a surfer. I even got up for about 7 seconds on my last run. It was amazing.

Unfortunately, the trip is nearly devoid of good-looking blokes, as there are only 12 to the 30 sheilas on board. There are a couple, though...

We're partying like rock stars each night. Last night we went to the worst club as part of our whole group. Needless to say, two of my new, bestest girl friends and I took the party elsewhere, to a bar where there was noone. Before we knew it, the place was jamming, and we were to blame. :)

Oh. And did I mention that I now own TWO pairs of skinny jeans?

I pretty much feel like I'm 20 again. Which is ok.

(no, actually it's great...)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Things I know

1. I love to jaywalk.

2. Sydney is THE MOST BEAUTIFUL and amazing city I've ever been to. Ever.

(And I'm not usually impressed that easily.)

I want to come back very, very soon.

Maybe for a long, long time...

Monday, January 15, 2007

Lauren and Simon

Traveling is all about connections.

In my adventures so far, I have met the most amazing people who live all over the world. And I have met people who know people who live all over the world, so that even if I don't know them, my friends do. Like friends of a friend of a friend.

But it's still all about connections.

In Melbourne, Mary and I have been set up with Lauren and her husband Simon through my connection with Tera, my bestest Florida friend, who I know through traveling to Maine.

Lauren is an ex-pat from Merrett Island, Florida, where Tera is from too. Lauren headed to Australia for a holiday about three years ago and met her husband, Simon. They've been married since not too long after she arrived (good on you, Lauren!).

I got in touch with Lauren once we finalized our plans for coming to Melbourne, and she offered to take us around for some shopping. For her occupation, Lauren buys incredible clothes at cheap prices and re-sells them on Ebay. She is also looking into designing her own label very soon. She knows her shopping. So on Monday, she took us to her favorite part of town for shopping and we had a ball.

That evening, we met up with her and Simon for dinner. They took us to the most INCREDIBLE Italian restaurant for dinner. Best pizza I've ever had. The wine was incredible too - they sell it in a litre carafe for $12. We each had our own pizza and shared a litre and a half of red wine for less than $60AU (about $50US). Then we had the best gelati ever, and went to a bar to sit on comfy vintage couches while drinking (more) red wine and listening to Michael Jackson.

Simon and Lauren were great hosts, and it was a night I'll never forget.

Now, the moral of this story is that traveling is all about connections. Had we not met up with Lauren and Simon (through Tera, bless you...) my (as I can't speak for Mary) personal experience in Melbourne would have been mediocre. We would have walked around the city and seen the sights that we could on limited budget, transportation, and time. But instead, we could easily come back to Melbourne again with a new sense of understanding of more of the city because of the generosity of new friends.

Friends who, through connections, might someday have a place to stay with me, wherever I may be...

The land of OZ

(really, though, I am not sure how they got Oz out of Australia, but I've learned not to question these kinds of things...)

In Aussie, safe and sound.

The two words I'd use to describe Australia on first sight: big and brown.

New Zealand: vegetative. Australia: dry and dead.

Hot too. I prefer temperatures between 20-25(C), tomorrow it's supposed to be 39.

The hotel we're staying in is a bit dodgy, but they do have A/C, which I haven't seen since leaving America. In fact, to me, A/C in New Zealand means 'always cold.' But seeing a heating/cooling unit makes me feel a bit more civilized again.

This girl was like a giddy child once she had her Australian Open tickets in hand. I haven't squealed that much since, well... that's none of your business. But it's been awhile.

Oh, and no streets in Australia are named after Martin Luther King Jr. But happy MLK Jr. day anyway?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Enough about me!

Since I've been gone...

my dad got a new job (and now he has more than my mom and I, if that's possible...).

my little sister Sara got a rabbit.

my little brother Sam has gotten so tall!

Nikki has kept on keeping on in her (incredibly challenging) classroom (Go Nik!).

Tera and Zach just bought a FLASH new bed and celebrated a Gator win in the BCS.

my grandparents have migrated to Tucson once again.

my mom decided she wanted to live forever...

Kelli and Justin had a baby! Welcome, Corbin! (see picture above).

Jess and Ty had a baby too! Welcome Ella (and hello to big sister Addie).

the MOs have moved.

the Elders have stayed right where they are.

my brother Tyler started high school this fall!

my friend Jen has happily rekindled an old romance (and consequently has been opening up to her more conservative side...).

my 88-year old great grandmother tried to send me orange salad for Christmas (but customs ate it)!

Auntie Barb has officially given my portion of the beneficiary money to my cousin Ruby.

Grandpa and Marvel have continued charitable work for children.

Don and Jean became grandparents (congratulations!).

Jen and Pete went to London and back.

my friend Ben and I talk more.

my teacher friends and I talk less (I miss you guys!). :(

Dad and Lisa are celebrating their 11th year together!

my cousin Ryan moved all the way across the country.

my cousin Adam has stayed right where he is (good on you, Adam!)


So, go on... Live your lives! Keep on keepin' on!

(just keep me posted?)

Hawks RULE

True story:

While out shopping yesterday I went to a very cool vintage store that I frequent quite often. The FIRST thing I spotted on sale was an old vintage Iowa State University hat (which made me squeal with delight, literally, out loud). This thing was probably circa 1983. And I wondered who went all the way to America in 1983 to buy an Iowa State University hat only to give it to a vintage shop 23 years later.

And then I thought, 'Well, anyone. Who wants an Iowa State University hat?'

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The best week?

And as if Polynesian mass wasn't great enough...

It started the Tuesday night after Christmas when I went to the Western Springs speedway just up the road from my house with my flatmate Ian and his buddy (our buddy) Anton. Anton is a cool, cool guy that I've known since I moved in, and he's really fun to hang out with. Anton's cousin was one of the racers, and it was so cool to be there to cheer him on. There were some incredible American racers too, which was fun for me to cheer for. But the coolest part was when Anton said to Ian, "There's Scott's parents" and by Scott's parents he really meant Scott Dixon, the Indy car racer who came in third this year at the 500 (which I was at). He's a Kiwi and one of Anton's good friends. By the end of the night I had actually spoken to them. Which was the coolest. Because I cheered for that Kiwi at the Indy this year...

The next day I met one of Ian and Anton's other friends, Norm. Norm owns a gym here in Auckland and is a pretty damn cool. He knows about everyone in the city, and is very fun to hang out with. He and Anton ride Harleys. Very cool Harleys. They wanted to take Sheen and I on the Harleys, to which we politely obliged. We got to take an hour long ride through Auckland, over the Harbor Bridge, and along the coast line on the back of Anton and Norm's very, very cool Harley bikes. It was breathtaking and amazing fun. Sheena's biker name is Doris. I liked Dorothy, but decided on Gladys instead.

On Saturday before New Years I ate at Orbit restaurant which is on the top level of the Sky Tower. The restaurant rotates, and the 360 view of Auckland as the sun went down was more incredible than I could imagine. I went with Ian's other really cool friend Hamish and his two (very fun) American friends Marty and Sarah, who were in on holiday. We spoke Yankee for a whole night and it was glorious.

New Year's Eve was fabulous. I had to work that night (as someone had to be responsible for feeding and fueling the flash and posh of Ponsonby). But the atmosphere at the restaurant was incredible, and I was so glad that I was there. At midnight, I kissed all of my gay coworkers and I slipped out to catch the fireworks that go off at the Skytower, as SPQR has a fine panoramic view of the city downtown. It was magical. Then, I drank and drank and drank (success) and tried to serve drinks (I failed) and danced and danced with customers (success!). But, even better than that, was the really good looking Kiwi guy who asked me for my phone number...

The week after New Years, Norm was house-sitting for the man who owns the gym that he owns. He invited us (me, my three flatties, Anton, and another friend Troy) over to play tennis on the private courts and swim in the private pool all week. We politely obliged. We played tennis all week at the oldest, most beautiful, gigantic, flash house I have ever seen (imagine an 1860's, deep south plantation home). We had spas in the hot tub, followed by dips in the pool, and terrific bbqs with fish and steak. Norm was an incredible host to all of us (and will be receiving a bottle of very expensive champagne from me for his efforts).

To end the week, Friday the 5th was the opening night for the Cirque de Soliel show, Varekai, in Auckland. Sheena and I got last-minute (and I mean LAST MINUTE) tickets that we bought from Norm, who mentioned he had extras from his gym. But what was cooler is that he had tickets to the cast after party as well. So Norm, his friend Adam, Sheena and I all hob-knobbed (well, Sheena and I stood around and gawked, Norm knew everyone) with some of Auckland's finest, about 1000 of them, and the performers after the show. It was a rockin' late-night party that I'll never forget (thanks to the one blurry picture of Sheena and I that turned out, see above).

But as all good things do, the awesomeness had to come to an end. All of my flatties are back to work this week, and I am back to researching jobs online. It's raining everyday in Auckland, and life has gone on as usual. But two weeks of amazing times I will never forget put a big smile on my face each night as I go to bed...

Monday, January 08, 2007

Pissed off

I'm grumpy today.

It's raining.

And you'd think I'd be happy that I am not working.

But I'm bored.

And you'd think I'd be happy because my FBI background check came back.

But I'm not.

Because after 17 weeks of waiting, I received the same fingerprint card that I sent in. Only it was stamped 'No arrest record' on the back.

Well DUH.

17 weeks for that?

Federal Bureau of Idiots.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Aussie Holiday

For my Auntie, who wants an itinerary for my trip to Australia

(and we always listens to our Auntie)...

Sunday, 14 Jan - Leave AKL 8:30 a.m., Arrive MEL 10:20 a.m.

Spend time in Melbourne shopping, enjoying the sights, out in the nightlife, and catching up with new friends...

Tuesday, 16 Jan - Attend Australian open in Melbourne

Wednesday, 17 Jan - Leave MEL 9:30 a.m., Arrive SYD 10:50 a.m.

**Spend time with my FAVORITE SPQR gay waiter, Aaron, who happens to be (incredibly HOT) living in Sydney to persue his acting career...

Thursday, 18 Jan - Begin tour of East coast of Australia with the Contiki tour group. For a detailed, day-by-day account of where we'll be and what we'll be doing, click here:

Fri, 2 Feb - Leave Cairns 11 p.m., ARRIVE AKL 6:45 a.m. on Sat, 3 Feb.