Ever since I became an American way back in 2011, I've been wanting to go to DC (it is on my list after all). So many iconic American buildings and monuments are there- plus I had to see in person the city where Scandal and House of Cards take place.
Next stop on the East Coast trip? Philly! My hotel was in the historic area of town so I was able to jump right into American History mode first thing in the morning. I was only in Philadelphia for the day so I had to try and fit a bunch of stuff in. Per usual, I didn't make much of a plan for this stop of the trip but relied on my tried and true method of wandering around until I found stuff I liked. After a quick Starbucks stop, I found myself at wandering around things like Betsy Ross' house and Benjamin Franklin's grave... history like whoa! I kept up with the history lesson with a visit to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall (and other crazy important historic buildings). I wasn't into doing the tour inside Independence Hall (there was a high number of obnoxious and loud people in line) so I headed over to Washington Park before stopping by Fat Salmon to get my sushi fix (yum!).
SF Flower Mart- omg that place is amazing!! So many beautiful flowers. After picking out some gorgeous flowers, we headed up to Healdsburg for the rehearsal. Lindsey's mom had rented an awesome house actually ON a vineyard (off Dry Creek Road) which was incredible and so peaceful. We picked up the bridal bouquet Saturday morning at Dragonfly Floral and then made a quick stop for Lindsey's official 'Bride' Starbucks cup. We had some time to kill before needing to get ready so obviously we had a mini photoshoot in the vineyard of the rental house.
May and in June so now it's onto July. Lucky for me that meant I had two awesome long weekends ahead of me. First up was Ashley's bachelorette trip to Palm Springs. We got there a little early so I dragged some of the girls on a 105 degree excursion to check out some of the cool Palm Spring architecture. Then it was a weekend spent drinking (pint glass whiskey gingers like whaaaat), hanging out by the pool, dancing and just generally having an awesome time celebrating Ashley's upcoming wedding with all the girls. I've decided I'm NOT a Vegas girl however I love me some Palm Springs- you can convince me to head down there for a visit any time.
Liz's birthday with a float down the river...so much fun!! Yosemite is one of my favorite places in California- I need to go there more often.
What is Red Fest you might be asking yourself? Well only the greatest redneck festival in the world!!! (That I know of). Basically my fav little Texan Nicole aka Bus, texted me with 'Red Fest in May. Look it up and book your ticket here now!'. Country music, BBQ and excessive amounts of 'Murica pride??? Um yea soooo down! I packed my best USA gear and got my spray tanned butt on a plane.
this craziness- I was SOOOO excited for Brit and Jac to come for a visit in March. I had a pretty intense itinerary planned out since I could only join them for 3 days before needing to go back to work so I tried to pack in some not-so-traditional tourist activities while we hung out. If you're planning a trip to the city or just looking to explore a little more here's what we were up to:
Cliff House where we enjoyed a fantastic late lunch before checking out the massively overrated camera obscura (save your $3). Afterwards my brother decided he was up for a hike so we decided we would work up an appetite by walking to the Marina for dinner from Lands End. It's a pretty spectacular walk all along the cost with lots of little beaches and fun spots to check out. It was also my first time checking out the Sutro Baths in the almost 6 years I've been living here- pretty cool ruins to wander around but I'm bummed I missed out on seeing Sutro Sam.
I know I've written about it before but I thought I would do another plug for the fantastic Batteries to Bluffs trail right here in the city- but this time at night! Whenever I get a little bummed out or stressed or overwhelmed, I find that I feel better after I am around some source of water- rivers, lakes, rain, but especially the ocean. This year started out super crazy busy at work so I needed to decompress and figured what better way than by watching the sunset at Marshall's beach. So I grabbed a backpack for snacks, water and a jacket and headed out- only detail was I forgot to tell someone where I was going. Because that's a good call...alone at night wandering down a trail with no one else around you...fun times! I always forget about that until I'm alone and then all I can picture is a zombie from the Walking Dead jumping out at me and dragging my body into a ditch (should NOT have watched four seasons of that show so quickly...helloooo nightmares). A quick text later and that problem was solved...now on to the pictures!
Blogging took a back seat to life (again) but wanted to catch up on a few fun things that happened in the past 6 months...btw how the eff is it already June?!?! Anyways after coming back from such an amazing trip, I only made it until the end of February before I was in desperate need of a break again so I booked myself a ticket to the homeland. With a crazy work schedule right before I left, the break couldn't have come at a better time. It was a very mellow trip (mostly because I didn't have time to tell people I was coming) that involved lots of fam time and sleep. First things first though was to shove some of my favorite Canadian foods into my face asap: the Legendary burger from White Spot (just sauce, gravy on the side for fries/heart attack) and sour keys!!!
Sydney | Day 24
Expectation: I won't have much time in Sydney so an overnight flight from Bali would be the best way to save time (and money on a hotel room!)- plus I sleep great on flights so what could go wrong???
Reality: Six long, sleepless hours of pure flying hell. It seemed as if everyone on the plane was sick- coughing, sneezing and sniffling fought their way over the sound of the plane engines to be the main soundtrack to the flight. There weren't any TV screens, so I used my phone to stream Virgin Australia movies/TV shows except they kept cutting out and I kept getting elbowed by my fellow passenger every time we hit turbulence (which we did A LOT). Lovely.
We finally stopped in Melbourne where I had a very short amount of time (due to the delayed Bali flight) to pick up my bags, clear customs and immigration AND stand in line with the rest of the holiday crowded to check in for my next flight. Ran to the gate just as it was starting to board and managed to grab a quick smoothie before being one of the last passengers on board. At that point, I had the clumsiest 55 min flight of my life. I dropped my cell phone twice (and forced the kind lady behind me to contort her body to pick it up off the floor in a crowded plane), I dropped my kindle, I went to lean my head against the window and misjudged the distance and ended up slamming my head into the side of the plane AND I dropped my smoothie on myself so I smelled like mango coconut for the flight. The second time I dropped my phone was near the end of the flight and I looked over at the (very tall, good looking) guy next to me and at the same time we burst out laughing...yup, I was a total disaster who could barely function but at least I was amusing.
Ubud | Day 21-23
I woke up early and enjoyed one more morning on the sunny rooftop deck of my Brisbane hostel before heading to the train station. I got to the airport early without any problems and then spent the next hour lying on a couch watching AFL game coverage (which I know nothing about) before my plane boarded. I will watch anything on TV- literally anything- its a problem which is why I do my best to avoid it. Right before we got on a plane a woman loudly announced that she packed 5 different kinds of diarrhea medicine for the trip- A) major TMI and B) I got freaked out that I didn't have any (was unnecessary thank god). The flight was uneventful but way longer than I expected it to be (Australia is huge)- I just wanted to get to Bali!
*Yea that title isn't as catchy as the orig but it'll have to do- also it was less 'oh my' and more me shrieking 'oh my god oh my god oh my god this is the best!' repeatedly.
I flew in the night before and checked into my awesome hostel- the Brisbane City YHA. This was the best hostel I stayed in and here's why:
-the views from the rooftop deck are beautiful and there is a rooftop pool! Yup rooftop pool!! The kitchen and dining area was on the top level too so you could enjoy the view- also the herb garden outside was easily accessible
-there was an onsite bar and restaurant with well priced food (had dinner there both nights-veggies tasted awesome!)
-awesome elevator floor (see shark image below :-))
-the multi-share rooms have individual lockers to hold your backpack (with outlets inside so you can lockup your stuff while it charges <-- soooo smart!)
-each bed has its own light so you can stay up reading without pissing anyone off
-and most importantly (since it was super hot) each room had AC
The hostel was near a huge supermarket so the first night I picked up some food for breakfasts/snacks (Tim Tams!) and then headed back just as a huge thunderstorm kicked off. I was exhausted and had a big day ahead of me so I ended up crashing early (after getting some much needed laundry done).
Kaikoura | Day 18
This was the last overnight stop on our tour and so we knew we were going to have a big night. None of us wanted to spend too much time in the hostel- it was probably the least nice one of them all (bathrooms were NASTY). Some people spent the day on the water (fishing, dolphin watching, whale watching, etc) but my friends and I hung around town shopping and hanging out on the beach.
After an awesome nights sleep at the Wedderburn Tavern (real beds, real linens, and a big CLEAN bathroom), we hopped on our school bus and headed to the Naseby Indoor Curling rink. We got a quick lesson on how it was done and then we split up into teams.
Team #GreatSuccess: Vicky, Mia, Kaisa and Cam
Team #InMyPants: Me, Kate, Anna and Bastian
Why team #InMyPants? Well in Doubtful Sound Vicky told us about a game where you add 'in my pants' to the end of sentences. For example 'That's a crazy looking party...in my pants'. When you're on a bus for hours on end, its the little things that keep you laughing. Anyways, back to the curling rink, team #InMyPants were the winners thanks to Anna's...uhhh...unique curling style of falling hard every. single. time. Black and blue hip for days.
What to do on the last day of my new favorite place?? I woke up so bummed knowing it was my last full day in beautiful Queenstown so I did my best to make the most of it. Kate, Anna and I headed over to Fergburger so I could get my Ferg fix. Holy crap is that place worth the hype! Amazing burgers- I thought the best part was the buns that they make next door at Fergbakery. I had the Southern Swine with beef, BLT, avacado, aioli and tomato relish...yum. Anyone going to Queenstown MUST have a Ferg fix...totally worth the hype (and if you go at an 'off' time there is no wait).
Best day ever. Pretty big statement right there...maybe it should be 'best day in NZ'? Whatever, the point is that my entire trip was fantastic but there were three days in particular that stood out and this was one of them. It stood out so much that this day gets its own blog post- also I took a crap ton of pictures so the post is long enough already.
Early in the morning, we were picked up and driven along beautiful Lake Wakatipu to the little town of Glenorchy. Along the way, our driver stopped to show us Lord of the Rings filming locations- I haven't seen the movies but was still impressed by the beautiful scenery. Our driver also talked about what it was like to be an extra in the movie. You had to get up at 5, get you and your horse ready, get into hair and makeup, then finally get into your heavy (and hot) armor costume for filming. It involved long days of filming and he told us that during one scene he fell asleep (on his horse) and woke up startled in the middle of the scene...yea that one needed to be reshot.
Franz Joseph is known for its beautiful glacier which I'm sure is very cool. However, to get to the glacier you have to take a helicopter making the trip a couple hundred dollars. You can walk to a lookout point but that isn't close to the glacier since the end is so unstable (you can't walk onto it because its unsafe). Knowing all the fun things I wanted to do in Queenstown, I decided I would save some dollas and pass on the glacier heli hike. Instead I slept in (yayayayaya!!!!), did laundry and wandered around the town. I ended up at the South Island Wildlife Centre which had great kiwi and glacier exhibits. There are five kinds of kiwi birds and all of them are endangered! The centre is working on helping grow the population and had three baby Rowi chicks on display. The kiwis are nocturnal birds so you had to go into a very dark room (only a couple red lights were on and absolutely no pictures allowed) and be super quiet. After a bunch of loud tourists left disappointed that they didnt' see anything, I sat down and waited. Soon enough I heard the snuffling and rustling of little baby kiwis! They were so cute and walked right in front of the glass where I was sitting- such odd looking birds with their thick legs, round bodies and long noses/beaks.