What happens in Vegas…

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After visiting Vegas last year I felt I had no reason to ever visit the city of sin again. That box was firmly ticked off. BUT as Steve’s baby sister was doing a trip around the US of A, Vegas seemed to be the most affordable option for the two siblings to meet.

As it was the very last day of my temp work assignment I was buzzing as I walked out the building for the last time and headed to the airport. Two hours and eight minutes later we had touched down at Mccarran International airport.

We took a taxi down the strip, ignited by flashing lights of every colour, towards our accommodation, Treasure Island. Upon entering the lobby I was hit with memories of my last visit to the city. The stench of cigarettes, obese zombies pulling handles on the side of old fashion slot machines and about a million tacky bachelorette parties. We managed a few moments of respite in the hotel room before meeting up with Steve’s sister and her boyfriend in the casino downstairs. From there we went from casino to casino, taking our time to push the bet buttons waiting for waitresses to offer us complimentary drinks (tips not included). I feel I tipped more than I actually bet money that night but actually managed to score $40! The night wrapped at around 3am outside the Bellagio fountain show (which actually finished seven hours earlier).

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The next day we had breakfast and then made our way through basically every casino on the strip. The Belagio, Planet Hollywood, The Palms, Ceasers Palace, The Luxor, Mandalay Bay, New York New York, all provided the same shit, just with a different theme.

At around 3pm we made our way back up The Strip to the High Roller, the worlds biggest Ferris Wheel. Earlier in the week Steve had purchase vouchers for the four of us to ride the wheel with our own bar tender and an open bar!!! I took full advantage of this and managed to get down six Gin and Tonics in the 1/2 hour the wheel took to rotate (if it went round twice I think I would have been in trouble).

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The rest of the trip was pretty much what you would expect from Vegas. More casino’s, flashing lights and cigarette smoke.

Shattered on a Sunday we made our way back to the airport to catch our flight home to Vancouver. Perhaps Vegas wasn’t the best idea when I was starting a new job the next day…

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Happy New Year

Is it too late to say Happy New Year when it is after the 10th January? Probably.

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I’ve just had so much going on that I have failed to update this blog with all the glamorous and exciting things that have been happening in my life (it’s hard to write sarcasm). But seriously since my last post I have had the opportunity to escape Vancouver a couple of times so I thought I would start by taking ya’ll back to my New Years get-away.

Since arriving here in Western Canada the first question basically anyone has asked me upon hearing my exotic accent is “Have you been to the island yet?” By which they mean Vancouver Island. As it’s pretty standard to have next to no annual leave with employment here in North America it is imperative to make the most of them long weekends. SO with four days off over Steve and I caught the Ferry from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay, Vancouver Island. The entire journey including two buses and a 1.5 hour ferry took us around five hours so we were both pretty over travelling by the time we arrived in the Victoria H.I on the evening of New Years Eve.

Upon planning this trip we didn’t really have much of an idea of what to do on the final evening of 2015. On the off chance they would be about,  I messaged a friend from Vancouver who is originally from Victoria to see if they would be back on the island. The answer was yes and their plan was to attend some raging trio of house parties all next door to each other. So after freshening up we took a stroll across the city of Victoria to a friend of a friends house and then onto the party. It was wild. Dance floors fit with DJs, flashing lights and bass that shook the floor boards (the same but different in each of the three houses). Perhaps the best thing about this party was the fact that I only knew three people out of 500 so if I did do anything embarrassing (likely) then hardly anyone I knew was there to witness it. We departed at around 2 or 3am and headed back to the hostel where I attempted to rap in a hushed voice to Iggy Azalea while Steve vomited in a bucket.IMG_7155

We awoke the next morning and a fresh year was upon us. Unfortunately our heads were not so fresh after the celebrations of the night before. We used the day to stroll around and take in the sites of a very dead Victoria. We looked at the Parliament building, the water front and were so hungry made a pit stop at Burger King (the worst meal to start the year on). In the late afternoon we found a great bar called The Local with amazingly, friendly staff. For the first time in ever the sun was out so we drank beers outside (under the heater of course) until the sun dipped into the ocean for the first time in 2016.

This New Year was a huge contrast to the beaches of Goa where I saw welcomed in 2015. Last year I was pretty serious about the goals I wanted to achieve but this year I am taking a more relaxed approach. Before heading away I already managed to get a pretty good job so I didn’t need to add that to the list. I guess this year my one and only goal is to explore North America. I want to see New York, head to a few more festivals and make the most of every long weekend.

Cheers to a New Year. I hope yours is wonderful…

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Whistler with my Sisters

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I thought I hated the snow. My only experience dealing with this icy nuisance as an adult has been in cities. On those rare occasions when snow would fall in NZ or London it would be great for the first five minutes. Then it would turn to a hazardous brown mush clogging up the sidewalk, sending public transport and motorists into a state of turmoil.

So naturally it had never been my intention to take a trip to Whistler, one of the world’s most famous ski villages, less than a two hour drive from Vancouver. However when presented with a last minute opportunity to go with four others making it an affordable and short get-away I simply couldn’t turn it down.

After a few hiccups with hiring a car Amanda, Ellesha, Lorna, Claire and I departed Vancouver and heading for the hills. After we had passed Squamish the snow began to fall, lightly at first, but as we climbed further up the mountain the road ahead started to become less visible. By the time we made it to our hotel it was already about 6 inches deep.

As none had any items of clothing or footwear that was even semi-suitable for the snow we had no plans to ski, snow board, sled or take part in any sort of snow related activity. Instead we made our way down to the village via the free shuttle and walked about taking in the sights, watching skiers slide their way down the mountain from the warmth of a local pub.

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The sights around Whistler village were what I had expected to see in Canada. The enormous pine trees branches slumped under the weight of the snow. Children running about screaming, throwing snow balls at each other. Open fires in every bar or restaurant. This was the first time in my life that I looked at the snow as a form of beauty rather than a pain in the ass.

If you knew the girls I went to Whistler with then you would not be at all surprised to hear that pre-drinks that night consisted of a large bottle of vodka, gin, fireball and Prosecco (matched with some wild concerns about running out of alcohol). We made our way out into the now even deeper snow to one bar by the name of Garf’s(?) which was provided nothing memorable to tell you about.

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The following day we made the most of our rental car and drove beyond the village to take in the snowy sites that surround Whistler. Due to the fact we all felt slightly under the weather we slowly made our way back to Vancouver in the late afternoon, keeping ourselves entertained by trying to think of aspects of the B.C Capital we actually liked.

One thing I have learned from my short weekend away, is that snow is best suited to the wild, NOT the city.

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Sleep deprived in Seattle

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After enduring the arctic temperatures and below average coffee in Vancouver for the past three months I was more than excited to escape the mundane life the city provided. Even if it was for just over 24 hours I felt that gave enough time to recharge the batteries whilst gaining another stamp in the passport.

I had consumed possibly one too many beers on a Friday night before the alarm blared at 4:30am, giving just enough time to slowly move around in the dark gathering our stuff together to make our 5:40am Greyhound bus to Seattle. It was just a four hour journey down to Washington State’s most populated city and with only minimal hiccups at the US border we arrived into Seattle at around 10am on a very wet and grey Saturday morning.

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As we only had just over one full day in the city we had carefully planned out all the attractions we wanted to see in order to manage our time efficiently. We abandoned our baggage at our hotel, The Belltown Inn, before walking directly to Pike Place Market, home of the famous fish markets and the birth place of Starbucks (I have never seen so many bloody Starbucks in my life). We got lost in the endless alleys of stalls and kiosks selling about every tacky souvenir you would expect from any other market in the world. We escaped the crowds that slowly moved from stall to stall to have a biscuit breakfast (American for scones) and to check out the famous “gum wall” which disgustingly held a stench of peppermint and saliva.

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Next we decided to take a stroll through the streets of downtown, sharing one umbrella, trying to hide from the now torrential rain. As Steve has a background in architecture we went from one building to the next as he tried his best to explain the stories behind why each building was designed the way it was. We went from the Seattle Public Library to the Seattle Art Museum to the EMP museum to the iconic Space needle. As we were on a pretty strict budget we didn’t actually pay to enter any of these spaces (apart from the library which was free), but for me it was enough to stand outside and stare.

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Growing a little tired of the rain and having shoes now almost overflowing with icy, Seattle precipitation our next stop was inside at the ‘Urban Craft Uprising Show.’ As grateful as I was to escape the conditions outside, inside the market things were not much more pleasant. Imagine thousands of pretentious, hipsters using the word ‘organic’ at least 35 times a minute. There seemed to be an endless amount of stalls all offering similar products that were either vegan or gluten free (and only a small portion of those were actually offing something edible).

We shoulder barged our way out of the craft show in the late afternoon, both exhausted by the early morning, hangover and heavy rain we made our way back to the hotel to take a little bit of time to relax. On the way we picked up some beverages (which were almost half the price we would have paid in Canada) and spent the next two hours not making any real sudden movements. You’d think this small break would have been enough to generate some energy for a wild night out in Seattle BUT given the fact I turned 29 last week the idea of having a dinner and an early sight seemed a lot more appealing to me than the rain and spending $100USD on a night I was probably not going to remember anyway.

Still exhausted the next morning, we allowed ourselves a slight sleep-inn before venturing out to Capitol Hill, a more arty area which promised plenty of decent spots for brunch. I managed another biscuit breakfast before we continued our weekend of trying to see everything in Seattle. We had a brief look inside some of the stores that had yet to find their way to Canada (Macy’s, Target, Ross, Forever 21) and then headed to the Olympic Sculpture Park. This was another attraction on Steve’s architecture ‘must see list’ and was actually pretty cool, ever from the point of view of a non-arty type like me.

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We left the park with only a few hours spare to make our bus back up to Vancouver, only giving us enough time to head back to the hotel and make the most of the free wifi to get the latest episode of The Biggest Loser to watch on the bus ride home.

I would have loved to have spent more time and money in the city but unfortunately those are two aspects lacking from my life right now. But hey, Seattle is just a four hour bus ride from Vancouver so I might just head back sometime soon.

 

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Those BIG life moves

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Having split feelings about the recent move…

Moving to a new place is never an easy thing to do. Relocating to Canada would be the fifth time in my life that I have moved into the unknown but this does not make the experience any easier. I thought today I would take some time to cast my mind back to the big moves I’ve made in my life (some involuntary, some by choice) to help ease my mind about my current situation.

At the age of just 13, my parents shipped me over from the West Coast of New Zealand’s, South island to boarding school in Christchurch. I distinctly remember standing in the common room of the boarding house and the matron announcing that it was time for the parents to head off. My mum gave me a hug and cried. I was embarrassed at the time of the emotion shown by mum, oblivious to the fact that this moment would ultimately mark the conclusion of my childhood. The first term of boarding school actually turned out to be OK. I made some friends, learned about living in the city and even learned a few things. However, with the arrival of the second term came darker, colder evenings. The Rugby season started and due to the fact I was ½ the size of the other guys (and that I was completely uncoordinated) I didn’t play. This meant the majority of my weekends were spent in the boarding house alone. Sometimes a week or two would pass and I wouldn’t even leave the school grounds. This is when times got tough and all I wanted to do was go home. Unfortunately this was not an option and my parents insisted that I spend the next five years in a place that at the time I absolutely hated. It took about two years before I actually was ok about being at boarding school. This was when freedom was something that was offered to us more far more mature 15 year olds. I ended up taking advantage of this and received a suspension for returning to the boarding house and after attempted to drink red wine for the first time.

Fast forward seven years and I was finishing up my tertiary education at the New Zealand Broadcasting School. In order to finish the degree program each student was to complete a six month internship in their field. The twenty or so in my class had to publish our C.V’s on a website for the industry and one by one we received calls regarding jobs. I will never forget the moment my phone started ringing with an unknown number displayed on the screen. At the other end was the General Manager of a radio station in Hawkes Bay, in the North Island. As I was somewhat ignorant to the geography of the North Island I actually had to google the place to find out where I would be flying to for an interview. In 24 hours I caught a flight up from Christchurch, interviewed, was offered and accepted the job. It wasn’t until I landed back in my beloved Christchurch that I realized what I had just done. Three months later mum and I packed up my Honda Civic and began the long journey up to the middle of the North Island. When we finally made it I dropped mum off at the airport (no tears this time) and found my motel in Hastings. The next few weeks were tough; it was the lead up to Christmas which was the busiest time of the year for most industries. I worked on my internship wage from 7am till 7pm seven days a week, returning to the motel at night to cry in the shower. Although I had a job in Hawkes Bay this was all I had. I was desperately lonely and missed all my friends back down in Christchurch quite a lot. After a month or two I found a flat, became best friends with my housemate and grew my social circle through her. In a matter of months Hawkes Bay felt like home.

After two and a half years I was exhausted from dedicating my life to my job. I literally worked every day of the week and instead of just writing ads, I was writing news, producing, doing on air shifts as well as promotions in the weekends. I remember one day being sick at home with swine flu (it was all the rage at the time) and receiving 28 calls from the office. This was the last straw I had gotten everything out of the job I had hoped for and without making further plans decided it was time to resign and book a one way ticket to London. For the first time in my life it was my decision to make the move and would be the first time I was to live out of New Zealand. In the lead up to this big move, I actually thought little about what I was getting myself into. In fact I thought little about what I was actually going to do when I got there. The day before I left my aunty asked some friends of hers living in South London if they would mind if I stayed with them. Thank god that was an option as I don’t know how well I would have handled living in a hostel in London. Those first three weeks in I managed to get a job AND was diagnosed by the NHS with shingles (welcome to London). Let me tell you being extremely unwell and being new to the hustle and bustle of London did not make for an easy time in my life. I moved into my first flat after those first three weeks and the deposit for the place cost me all the money I had save to get over to London. After coming to terms with the horror of my financial situation I spent the entire weekends in bed as I had no money to leave the house. I told my friends and family back home that I was having a great time, little did they know I was miserable and questioning my decision to give up everything and move to the other side of the world. However in time things did look up. I made friends with two newbies from New Zealand and friends with their friends and their friends friends etc. Before I knew it my entire weekends at home in bed were replaced with sleepless nights in East London, weekend getaways to various European destinations and one raging stranger’s warehouse party after the next. My time in London was over just as it was starting to get good and that day I boarded a flight out of London for the last time as a resident of the U.K was probably one of the worst in my life.

After seven weeks traveling around Europe I arrived at my new home, Melbourne Australia. Like Christchurch, Hawkes Bay and London I was not exactly happy with my first few weeks in the city. It simply did not compare to the magic of London. I was expected to wait ten minutes for the train, walk the dark streets without CCTV and what the hell was with all the loud birds screaming at each other throughout the night? I guess in the grand scheme of things Melbourne should have been the easiest move for me to make. I had a place to stay, an established group of friends and a job within no time. But I guess coming down from the glory of London it took longer than usual to appreciate what I had and now that I have left Melbourne I realize just how much I took that incredible city for granted when I first arrived.

In two days I will have been in Vancouver a month and like all those moves I had made in my life previously, Vancouver has not been easy. Yes, I have a job, a place to live and this time I didn’t move alone. But even so there are still those looming thoughts enter my brain when I can’t sleep at night. Did I make the right decision to move here? Why did I leave my friends behind again? Am I really prepared to do another six months of winter? If I have learned anything from all that relocating in the past it is just this: It’s never easy to find your feet in a new place but perseverance and friendships are two key ingredients to turn and apprehension into affection for a new city.

Now all I need is friends… (oh and a better job).

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Life in Canada

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Here I am living in a new city, in a country on the other side of the world. I’m pleased to say that after just ten days things are going rather smoothly.

After 26 hours I touched down in Vancouver feeling rather refreshed for the first time after a long flight. That was probably due to the fact I was bumped up to business which meant I had a bed to lay flat in, delicious food and very attentive air stewards offering me another beer before I had even finished the previous. Finally, after touching down in Vancouver I was ushered to join an incredibly long, slow moving line to receive my work permit. Two hours later my passport was stamped, work permit issued and I was free to leave the airport and begin my new life in North America.

I arrived into downtown Vancouver 30 minutes later to meet Steve where I was able to offload my stuff and have a shower at our hostel. Surprisingly there was still a feeling of summer in the air which was a literal warm welcome after a long dark Melbourne winter. After some beers and about five hours of sleep it was 6am and I was wide-awake. I used this time to go for an early morning stroll and familiarize myself with the city. I walked along the waterfront watching the seaplanes take off over the endless mountains of dark green pine trees, a very Canadian setting.

After the others (Sophie, who had flown over with me to do a vintage on a winery, and Steve) awoke we set out to take care the admin tasks that go hand in hand with moving to a new country. New bank accounts, new phone plans and an SIN number. This was all taken care of within a few hours which meant we had the rest of the day to do with what ever we pleased. We decided that since the sun was out temporarily we would hire cycles and ride around Stanley Park, which has been named the worlds best park by someone, somewhere at sometime. It was a pretty nice ride, however the grass which I expected to be green and luscious was harsh and brown. The signs of a long hot summer.

The next few days were dedicated to looking for bedroom furniture on Craigslist. Steve had found us a room in a house in East Vancouver all we had to do was furnish it. After contacting a large number of sellers we found a nice guy called Rob who was moving to Scotland and offered us his apartment worth of furniture for free all we had to do was pick it up. We ended up going with the old North American cliché and hiring a U-Haul which was by far the most affordable option, just the driving on the other side of the road made us both a little apprehensive. It ended up being fine after the third left turn Steve had the hang of driving in Canada. By the end of the day we had a bed, bookshelf, bedside table, table and three chairs. We moved into our new place just a few days ago and it’s looking and feeling a lot like home now. Our new housemates are all very nice and sociable and seem happy to have Steve and I as part of their flat family.

Now the only thing left to do was to get a job. I had a tip from a friend to contact Expert Recruiters who she had used in the past. Well I met with a consultant on Wednesday and had a job the next day. So as of Tuesday I will be beginning my new job as an administrator for a Credit Union. The pays not the best and it’s not exactly what I was looking for in terms of a job but it’s only temporary and it’s a good feeling to know that I have will have cash coming in and can use the money I saved to move to Canada for more travel rather than watch it whittle away as I look for the right role for me.

It’s only day ten and things seem to be working out. Although the rain falls heavily on a daily basis there is still a hint of summer in the air.

Winter is just around the corner. Bring on round two.

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I’m Moving to Canada

I’m moving to Canada!

This is actually happening. I have a two year working visa approved and as of last week a one way flight booked. Now it has all hit me. I’m actually moving to Canada.

Don’t get me wrong I do love living in Melbourne. I know what side of the river is best to live on, I know where’s good to eat after 1am, I have nailed the public transport system and have made the best group of friends since arriving in Melbourne almost two years ago. However, my ambition in life is to get out and see the world, this and the fact I’m almost too old to get another visa has resulted in this decision.

After returning from America a few months ago my old employer caught wind of the fact I was back in Melbourne and offered me an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. This was a temporary role only lasting until the middle of August which gave me the time and money to sort my plans to move abroad again. I don’t think it could have worked out better.

The visa process for Canada was not as easy as it was to obtain one for Great Britain or India. For my two year working permit firstly, I needed to have a passport with more than two years validity – so a new passport I had to order. Next I had to get police checks from each country I have lived in for more than six months. So I had to organise these from New Zealand, The U.K and Australia. In order to get a police check I had to show two proofs of address. As I had just moved house this was another aspect of the process that I found rather difficult. Finally when I thought I had everything sorted and all the fees paid I took a deep breath and clicked submit on the EIC website. Thirteen days later I received an email saying that I had a new message. I logged on and opened the message to read that my visa application had been approved and I had the right to live and work in Canada.

So in one month and one day I will begin the 27 hour journey from Melbourne to Vancouver. I’m nervous as hell about finding work, finding somewhere to live, making new friends and surviving the winter. But at the same time my excitement outweighs the nerves.

21.5 days of work left!

P.S If you know anyone in Vancouver please put them in touch with me

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